It was a dream start for the Pittsburgh Steelers and their fans.
And a bit of a nightmare for Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.
After the Bengals forced a three-and-out on Pittsburgh’s first offensive possession of 2022, the Cincinnati offense took the field, hoping to build on their success of last season. But Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick had other ideas. With Cincinnati facing a 2nd and 15 after Burrow was sacked on first down, the Bengals looked to the air once again. Burrow looked for wide receiver Tyler Boyd along the right side of the field, but the Pittsburgh defense was ready:
For more on how this interception came together, we go to the trusty dots!
As you can see, the Bengals looked to attack Pittsburgh with a Smash-Under concept. Wide receiver Tee Higgins, flexed outside towards the sideline, runs the slant route underneath while Boyd runs the deeper corner route. The Steelers drop into a Cover 2 coverage, with Fitzpatrick responsible for the deep half of the field. The safety stays over the top of Boyd’s route, and when Burrow tries to squeeze in the throw, Fitzpatrick jumps the route:
The Bengals were able to put points on the board following the interception, as kicker Evan McPherson converted a career-best 59-yard field goal to cut the Steelers’ lead to 7-3. But for Pittsburgh, their first game in the post-Ben Roethlisberger Era could not have gotten off to a better start.