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Steelers happy to have T.J. Watt back and “affecting every play”

Kenny Pickett reflects on his first win starting and finishing an NFL game, after leading the Steelers to a 20-10 win over the Saints, and explains what makes T.J. Watt so valuable.

Linebacker T.J. Watt missed seven games with a pectoral injury he suffered in the team’s season-opening win and the Steelers season has not gone well without him, but his return brought better results.

Watt was on the field Sunday and he opened the game with a couple of tackles to help sent the Steelers on their way to a 20-10 win over the Saints. Watt ended the day with four tackles and a quarterback hit, but it was clear from what cornerback Levi Wallace and other teammates had to say that he made an impact well beyond the box score.

“Each and every play, I looked up and he was doing something,” Wallace said, via Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s affecting every play. Just disrupting so much. You can feel his presence when he’s out on the field.”

Safety Damonte Kazee, who had an interception while playing in place of safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in his own return from injury, said Watt means “everything” to the defense and linebacker Robert Spillane said there was “so much energy and excitement” with the 2021 defensive player of the year back. For his part, Watt said his legs felt like “wet noodles” because of his long layoff but he looked just fine during the game and it’s clear the team is thrilled to have him back.