Minkah Fitzpatrick blasts Steelers teammates after frustrating loss to Patriots: ‘They gotta earn it’

Three-time All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick did not like what he saw from the Pittsburgh Steelers during Thursday night’s upset loss to the New England Patriots.

New England entered the game with just two wins and had struggled to find any consistency at quarterback. The Steelers were the overwhelming favorite to win but lost 21-18.

Longtime head coach Mike Tomlin decided to move on from offensive coordinator Matt Canada earlier this season. 

Mitch Trubisky filled in for the injured Kenny Pickett at quarterback Thursday, but the offensive woes continued.


Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick warms up before a game against the New England Patriots at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh Dec 7, 2023. (Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports)

Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe threw for three touchdowns in the first half. 

The Steelers’ playoff hopes have taken a significant hit with back-to-back losses, and they face the surging Indianapolis Colts Dec. 16.


Fitzpatrick suggested some of his teammates were not interested in putting in the hard work necessary for a successful season.

“In order to see fruit, you gotta toil for it. I think too many people don’t want to toil for it,” Fitzpatrick said after the loss. “They just want to walk out here and think that they gonna make plays and think that they gonna perform at a high level. 

“I think we need to have more people who want to work for it and not expect it to be handed to them because this is the NFL, and nothing’s handed to you. You gotta earn everything.”

Minkah Fitzpatrick with fan after pick

Minkah Fitzpatrick of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after an interception during the third quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders at Acrisure Stadium Dec. 24, 2022, in Pittsburgh.  (Justin Berl/Getty Images)

Fitzpatrick missed a few games earlier this season due to a hamstring injury before returning for last week’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Fitzpatrick’s return to action was short lived. He broke a hand in the the Week 13 game.

“I think that dudes just think that because they’re wearing the black and gold that they’re gonna win games,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think we need to check that mentality and make people realize that they gotta earn that mentality, and they gotta earn every single blade of grass and every single splash play and every single rep that they get out there. They gotta earn it.”

Minkah Fitzpatrick runs onto the football field

Minkah Fitzpatrick of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs onto the field before a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Acrisure Stadium Oct. 29, 2023, in Pittsburgh. (Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images)

While Fitzpatrick did not mention names, star wide receiver George Pickens came under fire after he was visibly frustrated during Thursday’s game.


Pickens did not have his best game Thursday, finishing with 19 receiving yards. After Pickens showed lackluster effort during a running play, Tomlin appeared to scold him.

“Thursday Night Football” broadcaster Kirk Herbstreit also suggested Pickens’ teammates would not be happy with the receiver’s lack of effort on a play he knew he was not getting the football.

“He’s kind of taking the play off,” Herbstreit said. “I think it sends a message to me, to your team. I look at receivers when it comes to their willingness to block and the effort that they’re willing to put forth.

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