If you visit any online box score pertaining to the Steelers 26-9 Week 2 victory over the Vikings at Heinz Field on Sunday, star defensive end Cameron Heyward‘s stats that include six tackles may not stand out to you.
But if you had the pleasure to be in the stands at Heinz Field like I was, you knew Cam Heyward was simply the best defensive player on the field.
- The son of Craig “Iron Head” Heyward was simply a stud, unstoppable–any other superlative you want to throw out there.
If you ever wanted to know how Pittsburgh’s defense, a unit that actually started to play better a season ago, after Cameron Heyward was lost for the rest of 2016 with a torn pectoral muscle, could have performed any better down the stretch, it would been with Heyward in the starting lineup dominating.
In other words, just because the defense actually improved down-the-stretch during Pittsburgh’s nine-game winning-streak, doesn’t mean it couldn’t have done better.
That’s the thing about difference-makers:
- You sometimes don’t know how much of a difference they can make until they’re back in the lineup doing their thing.
And that brings me to the current state of the Steelers defensive line. Sure, it is still a fine unit with veteran Tyson Alualu filling in for an injured Stephon Tuitt and second-year man Javon Hargrave providing quality play, alongside Heyward’s dominance. Yes, L.T. Walton gained some valuable playing time a year ago as part of a rotation that had to make up for the loss of Heyward, and that valuable time should come in handy this year, when Walton has to do what he’s doing now, and that’s provide quality depth in Tuitt’s absence.
- But what happens when Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt and Javon Hargrave play an entire game together?
Thanks to injury, we haven’t seen that since the game against the Cowboys last November 13, when Heyward was lost for the year.
Can you just imagine how awe-inspiring this unit will be?
As a Steelers fan, I certainly can’t wait, but until Tuitt comes back, at least I have Heyward’s singular dominance to look forward to.
- Again, if you weren’t at Heinz Field on Sunday, Cam Heyward’s box score does him no justice.
You really had to see that dominance for yourself.