Injuries have been a common theme throughout the league in the early goings of the 2021 season, for one reason or another. Yesterday especially, it seemed, there were a number of injuries going on throughout the day, even late into the night with the Baltimore Ravens overcoming a multitude to come back and beat the Kansas City Chiefs.
What concerns us, of course, is the Pittsburgh Steelers and their injuries. The major injury was to defensive lineman Tyson Alualu, who suffered a broken ankle, but perhaps the most impactful, at least while it lingers, is the groin injury suffered by T.J. Watt.
The fifth-year outside linebacker left the game in the second quarter and did not return, but not before recording his second strip sack in as many weeks (and third sack overall). He finished the game with four tackles and a quarterback hit, as well, despite playing less than half of the game. But the Las Vegas Raiders had no sympathy for his absence.
“We’re missing enough players, I don’t give a damn who’s out there for them”, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said after the game. “You know, we were changing our scheme, as well. I hope he’s okay. Obviously, without Watt, you know, without Josh Jacobs, without some of your big guns, you have to adjust. And I think both teams had to do that today”.
The Raiders were without multiple starters along their offensive line, as well as their starting running back, among others. They put Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy on the Reserve/Injured List last week. Cornerback Casey Hayward was banged up throughout this game. Even quarterback Derek Carr was briefly down, though he didn’t miss a snap. And he did appreciate the impact Watt had on the game.
“Honestly, any time No. 90 is on the field, he wrecks everything”, the quarterback said. “He’s one of those players. He’s a Von Miller, a Kahlil Mack, Aaron Donald. He’s one of the best players. He’s been paid like it too”.
When he punched that ball out of my hand, he had a touchdown to Henry [Ruggs]. Those are the things that a guy like that can do for you”, he added. “When he’s out of the game, you obviously know he’s out of the game”.
The Raiders ultimately put up 26 points on a defense that held the Buffalo Bills, on the road, to 16 a week earlier. Las Vegas netted 425 yards of offense, gained 6.6 yards per play, and scored six times while possessing the ball for over 34 minutes. And yes, most of the damage came after Watt left the field.