Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6) edge rusher Alex Highsmith entered the NFL’s concussion protocol Friday following Thursday’s 21-18 Week 14 defeat to the New England Patriots (3-10).
Highsmith, 26, missed the entirety of the second half after suffering a neck injury during the second quarter. Highsmith and his teammates lobbied with officials that a holding penalty should have been called on the play, but to no avail.
The debate spilled over to X, where Highsmith’s father, Sam, called out officials for the no-call.
Another day in the office for 56! 😔 https://t.co/EQ40Y0XArr
— Sam Highsmith (@HighsmithHigh5) December 8, 2023
“Just another day at the office for 56!” he wrote.
Sam Highsmith tweeted later in the game, thanking everyone for the thoughts and prayers sent his son’s way.
“Thanks for the many thoughts and prayers for Alex!!” he wrote. “For all of you consumed with being focused on the negativity, just remember that these are young men playing a game. Just imagine if it was your child or husband out there.”
Alex Highsmith, T.J. Watt call out lack of holding calls
The lack of non-holding calls on Steelers defenders was a big subject going into the game, specifically when it comes to the treatment of fellow pass rusher T.J. Watt. Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin went to bat for the 2021 AP Defensive Player of the Year Award winner Tuesday, comparing his situation to that of what NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal dealt with during his career.
“I think T.J. runs into what all the elite rushers do,” Austin said. “These guys are going to hold you until they can’t because a lot of times that’s the only way they can block. I mean I share in his frustration, but I don’t think there’s anything that we can do about it. We can complain and we can do all that, but that really doesn’t solve the problem. So I think we just deal with it. We just continue to fight and go. It’s almost like the Hack-a-Shaq.”
Highsmith, coming off a career-high 14.5 sacks, is second on the Steelers this season with 6.0 sacks. He’s added 49 tackles (27 solo), two forced fumbles and a pick-six. Veteran Markus Golden, a healthy scratch against the Patriots, figures to be in line for another opportunity if Highsmith is sidelined for the Week 15 road tilt against the Indianapolis Colts (7-5).