Steelers’ Minkah Fitzpatrick: ‘Embarrassing’ playoff loss to Chiefs, not money, motivates Pittsburgh defense

The Pittsburgh Steelers have the second most expensive defense in the NFL. A large portion of that money is tied up into the contracts of Cam Heyward, T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick. Heyward and Watt received hefty contract extensions the previous two offseasons. Fitzpatrick recently agreed to an extension that makes him the NFL’s highest-paid safety. 

When asked about being part of a defense with so much financial commitment tied to it, Fitzpatrick said the Steelers’ recent playoff disappointment, not money, is what is motivating himself and his teammates as they prepare for the 2022 season. Fitzpatrick alluded to Pittsburgh’s 42-21 loss in January’s wild card round playoff game against the Chiefs. The Steelers’ defense started strong — it scored the game’s first touchdown on Watt’s fumble return for a score — before wiling under the pressure of Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs powerful offense. It was the third straight playoff game during which Pittsburgh surrendered at least 42 points. 

“I don’t think necessarily the money motivates us, but just how we conduct ourselves,” Fitzpatrick told reporters after signing his extension. “Obviously, last year was not to our standards at all. I know myself, T.J., Cam, all of us were not happy or pleased at all with the way the season ended. Especially in that playoff game, [it] was an embarrassment, honestly. Not our typical selves. That’s what motivates us. 

“Obviously, the money is a blessing and creates opportunity for everybody and our families. But when you say the money, it’s more about what they’re saying with they money. They’re saying, ‘Hey, we trust you to be the best and prepare to be the best and compete against the best and play A++ on a consistent basis.’ So it’s more of a show of that that I’m trying to hold myself to rather than just saying I got paid so I’ve got to play well. … Now, it’s my duty to go out and play at a high…

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