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Steelers' Watt (knee) exits in third quarter against Ravens

T.J. Watt Pittsburgh Steelers T.J. Watt - The Canadian Press

BALTIMORE (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers finished the regular season Saturday in wait-and-see mode.

After defeating the depleted Ravens 17-10, the Steelers were uncertain if they would qualify for the postseason — and unsure if injured pass-rusher T.J. Watt would be available if they did.

Pittsburgh's victory on a soggy field left the Steelers (10-7) in position to reach the playoffs after missing out in 2022. If Buffalo or Jacksonville lose on Sunday, Pittsburgh is in.

But will the Steelers have Watt if they get that far?

Watt had two sacks to raise his season total to an NFL-leading 19 before he went down in the third quarter with a knee injury after his leg collided with the leg of teammate Montravius Adams. Watt immediately started pounding the turf in apparent pain or frustration.

He did not need to be carted off, however, and went over to the sideline tent. After a brief examination, Watt walked to the tunnel.

Afterward, coach Mike Tomlin held out hope that Watt would be OK.

“I’ll have more information probably next time we get together,” Tomlin said. "Obviously disappointed in that, but there are challenges in the game of football, there are challenges in life. So we’ll deal with it, whatever it may be.”

Watt's injury was the most notable on a day in which the Ravens rested many of their starters after clinching the top seed in the AFC last week. Baltimore (13-4) played without star quarterback Lamar Jackson, rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers, Pro Bowl safety Kyle Hamilton and standout cornerback Marlon Humphrey.

Coach John Harbaugh was intent upon keeping his team healthy, and it appears as if he accomplished that objective, even though defensive back Geno Stone hurt his knee, linebacker Del'Shawn Phillips injured his shoulder and defensive end Brent Urban was examined for a concussion.

“I think it looks like we got through OK,” Harbaugh said. “Right now it looks like we would have all those guys back for the playoff week in the division round.”

The Ravens played short-handed, and nearly won anyway.

“Can’t dwell on it,” linebacker Patrick Queen said. “Even though we had a chance to send them home, now they have a chance to go the playoffs. It stings a little bit, but at the end of the day we have a lot of pages in our book that sets us up pretty good. Nobody’s hanging their head or anything. If we see those guys again, we’ll be ready.”

Unlike the Ravens, the Steelers had to have all hands on deck in this game. Pittsburgh got the victory and a sweep of its AFC North rival, but it came at a deep cost if the Steelers are forced to play without Watt, who not only leads the NFL in sacks but is an inspiration to the team's gritty defense.