Cameron Heyward Disrupted The Lions In A Variety Of Ways

By Matthew Marczi

The Steelers played nearly the entire game without a nose tackle—Steve McLendon and Al Woods both came in as defensive tackles in sub-packages throughout the game—but that didn’t limit Cameron Heyward, who played 66 of the Steelers’ 76 snaps on defense with Brett Keisel sitting out.

Though he didn’t register a sack this week, he made sure that his impact was felt in a variety of ways throughout the game, registering three pressures, batting a ball and deflecting another, and registering two stops to boot. He and McLendon were also responsible for forcing the punter to fumble on the fake field goal attempt.

Most noteworthy, to my mind, is that Heyward had one of the better games in his still-young career against the run.

For example, this is what Reggie Bush looks like when he tries to run past Heyward. The Lions used the left guard to chip him off the snap, but then left the center to his own devices against the rapidly rising defensive end. Watch him work laterally and then explode once he can get his arms around Bush, throwing him backward after a gain of one.

Something that he has shown continued acumen for this season, even before emerging into the starting lineup, is maintaining his awareness and, as previously mentioned, getting his hands on the ball. He got his hands on two in this game, this one at the line of scrimmage.

Notice the unusual formation on this play. The Steelers lined their two outside linebackers up on the left side of the defense, with their two defensive ends on the right. Heyward stood up and lined up wide of the left tackle with Lawrence Timmons hovering between he and Ziggy Hood.

After the snap, Hood and Heyward flipped, with Hood pushing the pocket wide and Heyward going up the middle. Because of the pressure by Jason Worilds, Matthew Stafford was forced to throw early, and because Heyward stayed aware, he was able to get his hands up and bat the ball down at the line.

Even more unusual, and impressive, though, was this pass defense at the end of the second quarter that helped keep the Lions out of the end zone. According to Pro Football Focus, Heyward has only dropped into coverage three times this year, including two in the Lions game. This was one of those plays. I’m not sure if the receiver would have gotten to it, but the effort itself is great. Also note the outside linebackers walking the tackles backward into the pocket.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • dkoy85

    The gifs arent showing up. Very excited with Heyward! I liked him coming out of college on a character level and knew if his character could translate into play he’d be a force to be reckoned with!

  • John Hinton

    Cam has definitely been a key contributor this year.

  • srdan

    He is our defensive MVP. And probably a probowler. His last name will help the latter but his play alone should get him there.

  • Eric

    In all fairness, cam needs more success and numbers to get to the probowl this year. Timmons might make it this year.

  • Eric

    I still dream that one day soon, Cam will be given the ball on 3rd and short.

  • srdan

    You are probably right. Mathis and Hali have to go. And JJ is htere as well. I guess I was dreaming.

    But do you think that timm will be the defensive MVP over Hayward?

  • Eric

    Based on the 9 games played so far this year, I think the D MVP is still Timmons. Lets see who come up big in the next 7 then decide,


    Ain’t got no Gifs.


    Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs.

  • SteelersDepot

    Have no idea what happened

  • westcoasteeler

    I love Heyward cause he always wanted to be a Steeler, like his dad. It makes liking him all the more enjoyable when the ‘Ironhead’ in him comes out!

  • Riverstko

    SteelHead Heyward!

  • Virdin Barzey

    Cam is looking more like the Aaron Smith replacement and then some. I’m loving this kids play each and every week. I’m rooting for this kid to be the Playmaker and ProBowler that he’s becoming.

    I was wanting us to dump Ziggy but he can be a back-up just in case. Cam has surpassed this guy ten folds. Like Deion likes to say “Caaaam, whooa Cam!”

  • steeltown

    That last gif is a joy to watch, look at that pressure with 3guys rushing!

  • SumnerYoung

    Like I’ve said before, Heyward is probably the second best Tight End on the roster. Great awareness and great athleticism for a dude his size. Get Cam some goalline work on offense!!

  • Chad H

    One side of the line solved but where will we be next year. Hood will be gone and Kiesel not sure yet. I think he will be back if signs 1 yr vet minimum but then we need a back up to step up and learn to play the position.

  • dgh57

    We have Brian Arnfelt on the PS who played pretty good in the preseason for next year.

  • Jeff

    Jarvis Jones looks sharp on all 3 gifs, too.

  • srdan

    its usually not a coincidence that when your D linemen shine that the linebackers do as well. Aaron smith made a lot of household names over the years. lol

  • MC

    Always been a fan of this guy. He’s a football player simply put, Hood works hard and is strong but he just doesn’t have the football instincts this kid has. Him being promoted to starter did not surprise me at all in fact i thought it should of happened last year.

  • Mike Carroll

    Agree, Cam is a football player, plain and simple.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I have been saying the same exact thing.

  • Mike Carroll

    I think they sign Hood to a modest deal.

  • Chad H

    I don’t see Hood being on the list to resign but who knows. I think Heyward, Pouncey and C. Allen are the priorities and depending how Worilds finishes he may make the list as well. That’s why I don’t see Hood being there.

  • Mike Carroll

    If the team goes .500 (or less) again, I’d say most Steelers will be on the discount rack next year (fair or not) and that is actually a good thing in my mind. I’d like to see them sign not only Heyward, Pouncey, Cortez, but also Worilds and Hood. These types of players will help form the new team moving forward, without breaking the bank. But, I’m not sure the Front Office will be willing to cut enough aging vets to make this happen.

  • Asmitty56

    If I had a choice I’d resign Hood to a reasonable deal over Keisel. I love the guy, but he doesn’t have a lot of football in him and if anything Hood has been at lest solid. Some players are just late bloomers and lets be honest Hood wasn’t exactly a great fit in our 3-4, but he knows enough now to be effective. I don’t think they could afford to let Woods, a practice squad player or a rookie start at DE next year. Hood shouldn’t be too expensive.

  • Asmitty56

    I doubt either will to be honest. Timmons is getting out shined by a rookie in Buffalo this year by a mile, and 3-4 ends get no love in the probowl. I’d say Brown and DeCastro are locks for the probowl.

  • ND_Steel

    Brown yes. DeCastro??? Don’t know about that. Defensive players will get snubbed as usual. Troy may make it on reputation.

  • Asmitty56

    A month ago DeCastro was in the top 3 for guards. And there’s no way Troy should make it in. I like the guy, but he’s as much of ILB as SS this season.

  • ND_Steel

    I believe you on being rated in the top 3 for guards, but I don’t know how. If I had to pick up a yard, I wouldn’t do it behind DeCastro. And he doesn’t seem to hold his blocks long enough or finish them.
    I couldn’t tell you who I’d put above him, but there has to be better than on a team near the bottom in rushing and sacks allowed.
    I don’t think Troy should make it either, but Pro Bowl can be as much about reputation.

  • Asmitty56

    I’m not sure what you’re basing that off of. The Detroit game is the only one that comes to mind that he didn’t play well in.

  • ND_Steel

    Steelers are third to last in rush yds/game, third to last in rush yd avg/carry, next to last in power rushes to the right side (successful needing two or fewer yards), and 7th worst in sacks allowed. And for good measure, add in a takeout of our Pro Bowl center (a dangerous play even if he had hit his intended target)

  • Asmitty56

    That reflects on a whole offensive line effort, not individual effort.