Sunday’s AFC North showdown between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals doesn’t require much extra motivation. The Bengals are 6-4, the Steelers 5-4-1, making this a pivotal division matchup for both teams trying to catch the 7-3 Baltimore Ravens.
But Minkah Fitzpatrick admits he’s a little extra juiced up watching how the Bengals, specifically WR Ja’Marr Chase, torched the Steelers back in Week 3. Speaking with reporters Friday, he says the team watched their first meeting against Cincinnati last night.
“We watched our game last night,” he said via Steelers.com today. “I was watching and getting fired up. You see a team, a great talented team, he’s a great player. But anybody who scores on us twice, which doesn’t happen often, gets you fired up a little bit.”
Chase had a big day against the Steelers in Week 3, his first multi-score performance. Two of his four receptions found the end zone. His first score came at the end of the first half, burning James Pierre downfield for a long touchdown. Chase beat Joe Haden in the back of the end zone on the second, a play where Joe Burrow had all day to throw and wait for Chase to get open.
As Fitzpatrick said, it’s rare for receivers to find the end zone twice in one game against the Steelers’ defense. From 2007 to 2020, a receiver having 2+ touchdowns against the Steelers in one game has happened just 16 times. Unfortunately for the Steelers, it’s happened already twice this year via Chase and Green Bay’s Randall Cobb, not to mention the fact Austin Ekeler had two receiving scores and four total touchdowns in Sunday’s win over Pittsburgh.
For Fitzpatrick, it was the first missed game of his NFL career. And it was only the third game he’s missed in his career, college or pro. The other two came in 2015 and 2017 when Fitzpatrick was essentially given off weeks when Alabama played Charleston Southern and Mercer, respectively. Fitzpatrick sat out after spending ten days on the Reserve/COVID list. He says despite having limited symptoms, only a headache, he couldn’t get negative tests in time to play.
With him and other stars out of the lineup, Pittsburgh allowed 41 points, the most they’ve given up in a game in four years.
“It was a very important game for us on Sunday Night Football against a great team. It is what it is. It’s out of my control, what happened. It was tough watching.”
Fitzpatrick will be back to playing Sunday afternoon. And hoping to hold Chase in check this time around.