‘You Can’t Blame The Offense:’ Cameron Heyward Says Steelers Defense Couldn’t Get ‘One More Stop’ They Needed Sunday
Pittsburgh Steelers DL Cameron Heyward released an episode of his Not Just Football podcast to react to the firing of offensive coordinator Matt Canada, and he also recapped the team’s loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. While Pittsburgh’s offense managed just 10 points in the 13-10 loss, Heyward is putting some of the blame on the defense for starting off poorly and then not getting one final stop at the end of the game and allowing the Browns to kick a game-winning field goal.
“Our first drive and last drive were our biggest mishaps on defense, I think. First drive, we got off the field, it wasn’t a three and out, but they then pinned our offense on the eight. And then you watch that first series with the offense, didn’t really get going, second series they ended up getting a touchdown at the end of the drive,” Heyward said.
While he acknowledged that the defense was better in the second half, they still didn’t do enough.
“I think we needed just one more stop. I know we got two stops late in that game, but as a defense, just be hungry for more. As a defense, you can’t run from it, you can’t blame the offense, defense, we gotta get the stop,” Heyward said.
He also touched a bit on the delay of game call against Keeanu Benton on Pittsburgh’s final defensive drive, which helped set up an easier kick for Dustin Hopkins to give Cleveland the win. He said that the Steelers were stemming the front on defense, which means showing one look and then going to another. He was annoyed with the call in that situation and said the Steelers were on the official review tape before the game for the same action because it was deemed not a football move. Heyward argued it was a football move, but he had an issue with how the refs handled it at the moment.
“The thing that’s crazy about it is, we had multiple stem calls. It wasn’t called every single time. So they’re picking and choosing when to call it,” Heyward said.
The penalty against Benton occurred on 2nd and 8 with 20 seconds left and Cleveland having the ball on the Pittsburgh 24. It moved the ball up five yards and made the kick easier for Cleveland, but the Browns were already in field goal range so it didn’t have a huge impact on the game.
It’s interesting that Heyward put more blame on Pittsburgh’s opening defensive possession rather than the second, in which they allowed the touchdown. The Steelers were driven back and had to punt from their own end zone on offense, and while the Browns did have a short field due to that, the defense at least got a stop on the opening possession. The Steelers’ offense couldn’t capitalize on their first possession, and it then put the defense in a tougher spot.
The fact is, the Steelers’ defense was fine, and only allowed the Browns to score 13 points. You won’t win many games scoring ten points in the NFL, and while as a leader of the team and captain, Heyward is going to put the blame on his unit. The fact remains that the offense didn’t do enough. That’s why offensive coordinator Matt Canada isn’t employed by the team today. The offense has been a consistent issue all season. Even if the Steelers did get that stop at the end of regulation, there’s nothing the offense did all day that showed they could’ve put together a game-winning drive in overtime if they had the opportunity to do so.
But it is clear that the defense is taking some blame, with cornerback Patrick Peterson saying today that all three phases need to step up and bring a killer instinct to the team. Hopefully, the change at offensive coordinator sparks that unit, and the defense and special teams unit can also step up and get this Steelers team into the playoffs.
Watch the full Not Just Football podcast below: