The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Cameron Heyward continued to be one of the best and most overlooked defenders in football right now, putting in another strong game this afternoon, making played even amidst defensive lapses going on around him.
With the defense was “bleeding” against the run for a while, in his words, they still ultimately held the Detroit Lions to 16 points through 70 minutes of play, which, during most weeks, you would be willing to sign up for before kickoff. It wasn’t enough to win today—but it was enough not to lose, as the game ended in a tie.
Different players had different answers post-game when they were asked, numerous times, if today’s tie ‘felt like a loss’, but more broadly, every team in the AFC North, including the idle Cincinnati Bengals, is coming off a game in which they did not win. The Baltimore Ravens lost on Thursday night, and the Cleveland Browns got stomped today. Heyward, though, takes no solace in that.
“I don’t really concern myself with what other teams are doing. Coach always says you’re either surviving or thriving. We’ve got to be better”, he said. “I don’t treat water. I’m learning how to swim. We’ve got to be a lot better, but the great thing is there’s a lot of football to be played. We’ve got to learn from these mistakes and get back on the horse”.
To be clear, he was asked this question specifically using the terms ‘surviving’ and ‘treading water’, referring to coming out of this game without a loss while the rest of the division was on a down note at the moment.
Of course, the Steelers have plenty of down notes to speculate on right now. Their quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, is symptomatic with COVID-19. It’s too soon to say whether or not he’ll be cleared to play for their next game, but I think it’s safe to say most of the Mason Rudolph fans no longer think it would be for the better.
Then there’s the question of T.J. Watt, who suffered an injury while recording his 12th-and-a-half sack of the season. He is due to get scans on his knee and hip. While it appears that he may have avoided any season-ending injuries, it’s impossible for us to know his status.
Also leaving the game with injuries were both guards, Kevin Dotson and Trai Turner, the former appearing to suffer a more serious injury. I would rather not speculate about possible timelines here, but I’m guessing B.J. Finney will dress next week.
And the Steelers just passed up what should have been their safest win on the schedule, a home game against a winless team. Now they take their show on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers and the Bengals. You can make your jokes about LA games being home games, but Justin Herbert doesn’t care about that. We could be looking at a .500 team by the time they host the Ravens on December 5.