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Cam Heyward Says Star-Studded Steelers Defense Should Be Held Accountable for Failures

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Steelers Cam Heyward

PHILADELPHIA — Twice in the last four weeks, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense has failed, to borrow an expression from head coach Mike Tomlin — to “keep a lid on it.”

The Steelers gave up two long touchdowns to Gabe Davis on the way to a 38-point performance against the Buffalo Bills in Week 5. This Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, it was A.J. Brown that torched the Steelers defense for three big-play touchdowns as the Eagles rolled, 35-13.

“There’s a multitude of things going wrong,” Steelers defensive captain Cam Heyward said after the game.

The big plays allowed over the top of the defense stand out, but so do the lack of splash plays by the Steelers defense in this period of playing without starting linebacker T.J. Watt.

The Steelers sacked Jalen Hurts three times on Sunday but did not get a turnover. They had seven sacks in the season opener against Cincinnati with Watt. In seven games without him, they have eight. They had five turnovers against Cincinnati and have had only seven since.

Watt will likely return after the Steelers’ idle week in Week 9, but Heyward said that return will be wasted if the Steelers don’t take accountability for what’s transpired in his absence.

“We’ll get back to Pittsburgh and really digest this film, but don’t hide from it,” Heyward said. “Expose the wounds. That’s the only way you get better. Not speaking up, not being accountable, and not asking the questions. That sets us back when guys, and everybody in our group, when we’re not asking the right questions and we’re not taking the accountability and we’re not taking it onto the practice field and then to the game. There’s a dysfunction there.”

And if that disfunction continues, he said players should lose their jobs. That’s already happened to some extent, as Montravius Adams has passed Tyson Alualu on the depth chart at nose tackle. James Pierre came on after Ahkello Witherspoon was benched on Sunday. That could continue across the board if things don’t change.

“Either you learn and are accountable or you’re not going to play,” Heyward said. “We’ve all been given chances to see that. If you can’t do it, you won’t play. That goes for everybody. I’m not singling one guy out. We’ve all got to be accountable. Myself included. As a leader, I’ve got to take most of the blame.”

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