Pittsburgh Steelers Place 2 Star Edge Rushers in Concussion Protocol

The Pittsburgh Steelers 21-18 loss to the New England Patriots appears even more costly than expected. The team placed edge rushers T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith in concussion protocol after both demonstrated symptoms following Thursday Night Football.

Watt appeared dinged up early in the first quarter of Thursday's game but went on to play 52 snaps, which is a fairly typical workload for the three-time All-Pro. However, he fell short of his usual stellar production, failing to register a sack for only the third time this year. 

Meanwhile, Highsmith exited after only 17 snaps and was eventually declared out with a neck injury. In his absence and with Watt ailing, the Patriots scored their most points in the game since a Week 7 29-25 win over the Buffalo Bills.

Watt and Highsmith missing any time at all for a 7-6 Steelers team pushing for the playoffs would be disastrous. They've combined for an eye-popping 20 of the Steelers' 36 sacks through 13 games this season, and the Steelers are already without starting quarterback Kenny Pickett due to an ankle injury. Backup Mitchell Trubisky struggled in his first start of the season, netting a mere 182 passing yards on 37 dropbacks.

The Steelers play the 7-5 Indianapolis Colts in Week 15, and another loss could push them out of a Wildcard spot, not to mention cost them a crucial tiebreaker. The Steelers are lucky to have a 10-day break before the game due to playing on Thursday Night Football, but quick recoveries from concussions are no guarantee. With road games against the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens still to come, the Steelers can't afford to fall any further back in the standings.  

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