The Pittsburgh Steelers won an overtime thriller against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night 23-20.
It didn't look like the game was going to be close at all when the Steelers led 14-0 at the half, but Seattle stormed back not once but twice after the break and sent the game to an extra period after Geno Smith engineered a last-second drive to get into Jason Myers' range. The game was not without controversy, as the sequence that sent the game to overtime featured a fumble and a booth review.
Seattle had the ball first in the overtime period but hand to punt, and then the Steelers had to settle for a punt of their own. That's when T.J. Watt made the biggest play of several big plays that he made throughout the evening, sacking Smith from behind and stripping him of the ball. That sequence led to a game-winning field goal by Chris Boswell, who helped the Steelers even their record at 3-3.
Here are some takeaways from Sunday night's wild Steelers win:
Why the Steelers won
Defense, defense, defense. It's been common this year to credit Pittsburgh's "D" for most of the team's success, and rightfully so. But Sunday night was one of the clearest examples yet that Watt and Co. are driving this train. Watt might've been the MVP for his two sacks, the second of which forced a Smith fumble in overtime -- the preface to Boswell's game-winning field goal. But Cam Heyward, Alex Highsmith and rookie Tre Norwood all stepped up around the ball as well, limiting Seattle to just 4.8 yards per play and a poor night on third downs. They got gashed on the ground quite a bit in the second half, but they also made as many splash plays as the offense, most notably in crunch time. And, offensively, while he wasn't perfect by any means, Ben Roethlisberger threw a couple of nice balls that at least kept Pittsburgh in control out of the gate.
Why the Seahawks lost
Smith certainly doesn't deserve all the blame for Seattle's OT defeat, but his handling by the Seahawks definitely contributed. To be clear, Smith's OT fumble on an attempted run up the gut was a killer. But he was completely passable otherwise, albeit in an ultra-limited role reserved to almost exclusively screens, short passes and handoffs. Alex Collins rewarded the team's commitment to the run in the second half with some big gains, but that was too little, too late considering Seattle opened in a 14-point hole. DK Metcalf was barely a factor until fumbling his way into a key play late, while Tyler Lockett was also anonymous on a night in which Seattle simply seemed averse to letting Geno push the ball.
Third down. Overtime. Seahawks' ball at the Steelers' 45. Geno and Co. had a chance to end the game after forcing OT on a crazy sequence of events that included an inexplicable Metcalf fumble, a quick Freddie Swain recovery, a Smith spike with seemingly one second on the clock, and a prolonged official review. But then Watt came flying in to sack Smith for a loss of 14, pushing Seattle out of field goal range. The Steelers didn't score on their own ensuing drive, but then Smith came back out and coughed up the ball on another Watt sack, sealing Pittsburgh's tight win.
Play of the game
How can it be anything but the most polarizing one of the night? Watt's OT strip-sack was a thing of beauty, but this one, in which Metcalf fails to go out of bounds, loses the ball and somehow allows Seattle to set up a game-tying field goal, was bonkers:
The Seahawks (2-4) will be back in prime time in Week 7, when they're set to play host to the Saints on "Monday Night Football," again without Russell Wilson. The Steelers (3-3), meanwhile, will enjoy some rest on their bye before returning on Halloween against the Browns.