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Fitzpatrick Knows He Can’t Get Burned By Raiders (Like Last Year)

Most times, Minkah Fitzpatrick is in the news for good reasons. On the winners list more than the losers column. But even a great player like him makes mistakes. And in the team’s 2021 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, Fitzpatrick had one of the game’s key errors that resulted in a long Raiders’ touchdown.

With playoff hopes on the line and a chance for redemption, Fitzpatrick knows he can’t make the same mistake twice.

“Derek Carr’s a really good quarterback who can get the ball to playmakers,” he told reporters Monday via Steelers.com. “It happened to me. We were playing them, I was moving around a lot that game and I got caught with my eyes in the wrong spot, in the backfield and got caught short and a big play went over my head. Just not allowing that big play occurring. Stopping that is gonna be big for us.”

Fitzpatrick is referring to the 61 yard touchdown pass he allowed to WR Henry Ruggs in last year’s 26-17 loss, a critical play that minimized the chances of Pittsburgh taking the lead. A refresher on the play, Fitzpatrick cutting the crosser as Ruggs ran behind and scored down the middle of the field.

Ruggs catch went on to help the Raiders win that game. His life changed just weeks later, killing a woman in a car accident while under the influence. His legal case remains ongoing.

For the Steelers/Raiders rematch, avoiding the big play is critical. The Raiders traded for WR Davante Adams this offseason, a big-play threat and one of the top receivers in the league who will command the Steelers’ attention. But Las Vegas also returns TE Darren Waller, a matchup problem down the seam, who returned from injury yesterday and found the end zone in a wild win against the New England Patriots.

On the year, Pittsburgh’s been too prone to allowing the big play. On the year, they’ve allowed 52 completions of 20+ yards, fourth most in the NFL. But they’ve been better since the bye. Since Week 10, Pittsburgh’s allowed 16 such completions, 20th overall. Still not great but progress. But the Raiders will challenge that improvement and Fitzpatrick and the Steelers will need to keep a lid on it better than they did last year. Or else they’ll get the same result as the 2021 outcome.

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