The Pittsburgh Steelers’ second-half hopes for the 2022 season came to a screeching halt today, much like many of their drives as they got into field goal range. The loss drops them to 5-8 on the year and virtually out of the running for a trip to the postseason, and they largely have the Baltimore Ravens’ linebackers to thank for it.
Including Roquan Smith, the Pro Bowl linebacker they acquired mid-season from the Chicago Bears where he played with Steelers quarterback Mitch Trubisky. The latter had to play most of the way for Pittsburgh today after Kenny Pickett exited early with a concussion—whether or not familiarity had anything to do with Smith’s red-zone interception, he knew either way what he had to do.
“You know, I have a lot of respect for the guy”, he said after the game about Trubisky, via transcript. “But he made a throw and he had to pay for it. It was a great rush by the defense. I was in the right place at the right time and made a play”.
It was a 10-7 game on the drive that ended in Smith’s interception. The Steelers had gotten the ball inside the 20-yard line, the red zone, on the Ravens’ side of the field after taking over at their own 36, picking up 35 yards in seven plays.
After a short two-yard run on first down, Trubisky looked for tight end Pat Freiermuth crossing over the middle of the field, but instead found his former Chicago teammate wearing purple and black for his third interception of the season, first as a Raven.
The quarterback said after the game that wide receiver Steven Sims may not have been to blame and that he was in the right area of the field, but that the Ravens were successful in jamming Freiermuth on his route and delaying his progression down the field.
It was one of three interceptions Trubisky threw on the day, the second coming under similar circumstances a short time later, in field goal range, intercepted by a linebacker—in this case Patrick Queen—while forcing a ball to Freiermuth.
His final interception came on a go ball to Diontae Johnson down the left sideline, overthrown and snagged by ball-hawking safety Marcus Williams, making his return from injury after missing most of the season up to this point. He had three interceptions in five games before returning.
Trubisky and Smith were teammates in Chicago for three years from 2018-2020. The former was the team’s first-round draft pick in 2017, Smith a year later taken in the same round. They were supposed to be the foundation stones of a turnaround in the Windy City. Now one’s blowing hot air in Pittsburgh and the other is taking the wind out of his sails.