Defensive end Cam Heyward wasn’t able to play in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 27-16 home loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday, but what he saw from the defense far from inspired him.
What specifically irked Hayward was how the defense responded after a Steelers field goal cut the deficit to 20-16 in the fourth quarter.
“We had momentum going in,” Heyward said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It was 20-16, and we let them get that. And it was like we just quit. I don’t mean to say that lightly, but I just felt like we had so many opportunities out there.”
Heyward was referring to the way Tom Brady and the Patriots orchestrated a 6-play, 75-yard drive for the final touchdown. The Patriots dominated a stretch that Heyward thought could be the Steelers’ moment to rise up.
“I felt like our offense just had a great drive and I think we only got three points out of it, but I was like, ‘Let’s get off quick because their defense is tired,'” Heyward said, via the Post-Gazette.
Heyward’s criticism came after inside linebacker Ryan Shazier said the defense played like “garbage.”
“He’s being kind,” Heyward said, via the Post-Gazette. “I would have used a different word. We can’t play like that as a defense. … That’s just piss-poor technique. You have to have some pride when you’re out there.”
Heyward wouldn’t identify anyone specifically who lacked pride or technique but rather said it was defense-wide. He’s hoping he can help correct it with the bye week this week and by returning to the field from the hamstring injury that has held him out of the past two games, both losses.
The Steelers currently sit atop the AFC North at 4-3 but rank 27th in total defense after surrendering 362 yards to the Patriots.