Following the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns Sunday, defensive end Cameron Heyward let it be known that he thought Browns tackle Joe Thomas illegally chop blocked him late in the fourth quarter. Heyward, who injured his ankle on the play, went as far as to call it a “dirty play.”
On Tuesday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked during his weekly press conference to comment on the play and Heyward’s reaction to it.
“I thought he was upset. I thought it was a legal block, but obviously he was upset,” said Tomlin. “But I think his anger had to do with how the game was going as well. It was a culmination of things, if you will.”
Thomas also thought Heyward was complaining because he was mad about being legally blocked while his team was down big late in the game.
“I think he was upset they were losing and he got cut,” Thomas said in the Browns locker room after the game. “Defensive linemen just don’t like to get cut. Emotions are high. I’ve been in that situation when you’re down big. Everything irritates you.”
To Thomas’ credit, he did try to come over and shake Heyward’s hand while the defensive lineman was angrily yelling at him while leaving the field. Heyward, however, wanted nothing to do with the Browns veteran offensive lineman and his friendly gesture.
Now that we have the end zone view of the play in question, you can see why Tomlin said he thinks the block was legal as Thomas does get his head out in front of Heyward.
While this particular chop block is legal, according to the current rules, it’s still extremely dangerous and you have to wonder how much longer the league will allow any form of blocks below the waste to go on in the trenches.
For now, Heyward’s going to have to learn how to protect his legs better as you know this won’t be the last time that opposing offensive lineman try to duplicate Thomas’ actions in attempt to irritate him.