Steelers’ Minkah Fitzpatrick says he got about half a finger on his game-saving, extra-point block vs. Bengals



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CINCINNATI — Minkah Fitzpatrick smiled while extending his left hand when asked how much Evan McPherson’s point-after attempt he was able to get his hands on. 

Fitzpatrick, with his team staring a sure defeat in the face with two seconds left in regulation, was able to sprint into the Bengals’ backfield before blocking McPherson’s extra-point attempt, forcing overtime. The Steelers, after missing a kick of their own, prevailed after Chris Boswell hit a 53-yard attempt as time expired. 

“It was maybe like half of my finger,” Fitzpatrick told CBS Sports while pointing to his pointer finger. “It wasn’t a whole lot, but I got enough of it.” 

It was one of several big plays the two-time All-Pro made during Sunday’s 23-20 win. Fitzpatrick, who led both teams with 14 tackles on Sunday, kicked off the game with a 31-yard pick-six of Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. The pick helped the Steelers achieve their goal of getting off to a fast start against the defending AFC champions. 

“It’s a lot of joy in both circumstances, but definitely for the field goal block,” Fitzpatrick said when asked to compare the two plays. “It kept us in the game, and allowed us to keep playing.” 

On a field full of Pro Bowl-caliber players, Fitzpatrick stood out the most in the first-ever game played at Paycor Stadium. Fitzpatrick showed that he is still capable of making game-changing plays after outside circumstances forced him to be more of a tackler than a playmaker last season. 

“I’m going to go out there and do whatever Coach T [Mike Tomlin] asks me to do and whatever the team needs me to do in order to win,” Fitzpatrick said recently, after the Steelers concluded their final day of training camp. “Last year, it was making a lot of tackles, and the year before that, it was getting a lot of turnovers. Whatever this year brings, this year brings.” 

On Sunday, Fitzpatrick was asked to help the Steelers contain one of the NFL’s best passing offenses. Fitzpatrick did that and then some, and the result was a win for Pittsburgh and a confirmation of his status as one of the league’s best defensive players. 

“Minkah’s a compete player,” Pittsburgh defensive captain Cam Heyward said after the win. “A lot of people sleep on Mink and what’s he’s capable of doing, whether it’s being a box safety, being a ball hawk or even blocking kicks. Me and T.J. [Watt] were joking with him. We were like, ‘You don’t have a blocked kick … because last year [against the Packers] didn’t count. But he got one today. He joined the club.” 

Fitzpatrick has also emerged as a leader on a Steelers’ secondary that has had plenty of turnover. With Fitzpatrick leading the way, Pittsburgh’s defense picked off Burrow four times while coming up with other keys plays during Sunday’s 70-minute marathon. 

“Minkah’s a leader in that secondary,” Heyward said. “I thought our secondary was all over the field today. Picking off balls and challenging that great wide receiver corps, and we were able to get the ‘W’ today.”