Pittsburgh Steelers star T.J. Watt on the sidelines. Sep 18, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt (90) stands on the sideline during the second quarter against the New England Patriots at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers endured a disappointing campaign, by their standards, last season. A pectoral injury to star linebacker T.J. Watt played a massive role in their third-place finish in the AFC North with a 9-8 overall record.

The Steelers went 8-2 in those games when Watt played.

Watt, appearing on Ben Roethlisberger’s podcast, discussed the injury that derailed his season in vivid detail.

“Obviously, the pec this past year was tough,” Watt admitted. “Just having a great offseason, feeling really good going into the season. I felt like I was playing really well in Cincinnati. But that’s just like one of those things. Even on the play I got hurt, the clock was running, they were out of timeouts. Fourth quarter. It was like 20 seconds left. I got a hand-in-the-face penalty.

“But I had Joe Burrow locked up, and like my arm got stuck behind me. And that’s how I tore my pec. The amount of times I’ve replayed that play in my mind — like if I just kept my hands low, there’s no hands to the face, A. Then, B, if I just stay on my feet and wrap him up and take him down, like, game’s over, pec is fine. The amount of times that I’ve drove myself nuts thinking like that.”

Watt admitted that he never returned to form despite coming back from the injury on a shortened rehabilitation timetable.

“As soon as I came back, it never really got to 100 percent,” he said. “But then it was just like every little thing — I had a rib (injury). I had a thumb. It was just one of those years for me where I just could never get 100 percent fully healthy, so it was a little frustrating.”

The good news for Steelers fans is that Watt says feel’s “great,” and that the offseason ahs been “great” for him as well. Watt’s return to All-Pro form would certainly play a big role in the Steelers returning to the playoffs this season.

[Footbahlin with Ben Roethlisberger]