It just somehow seems to figure that a week after Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward was snubbed from reaching the first Pro Bowl of his career, the seventh-year man would put on a show with all of the league watching once again, as he has several times, once again recording two sacks and adding a second forced fumble to his tally on the year.
It is certainly difficult to assemble a rationale that coherently explains why Heyward is not in the Pro Bowl, and frankly, this game should serve as a point of reference that perhaps the Pro Bowl voting should not be determined until the regular season is actually over.
After last night’s game, Heyward is actually fifth in the league with 12 sacks. Fifth in the entire league. And second in the AFC. The only player in this conference who has more sacks than Heyward is Calais Campbell. Just think about that. It’s pretty hard to fathom. He has more sacks than all of the outside linebackers who made the Pro Bowl from the AFC.
Yet the only way that he could now receive recognition as Pro Bowler this season is if the Steelers fail to make the Super Bowl and he is able to make it into the game as an alternate. I don’t even know if he is an alternate. But it’s certainly difficult to understand.
For a 3-4 defensive end with 45 tackles, 12 sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and three passes defensed to fail to make the Pro Bowl is really all that need be pointed to to explain why there are issues with the manner in which the ballot is structured, plain and simply.
I wish I hadn’t already talked about this all last week when the Pro Bowl roster originally was released, or that I didn’t have to talk about it at all. If the All-Pro list could be amenable to change, then there is no reason that the league cannot more accurately account for Pro-Bowl voting based on what players are actually asked to do.
In the meantime, Heyward merely passed Lawrence Timmons and Kevin Greene on the Steelers’ all-time sack list—though, mind you, Greene had a whole lot more sacks outside of his three years in Pittsburgh—and he has an opportunity to pass or tie Keith Willis for the most sacks by a defensive lineman in a season in team history.
Only four players in Steelers history have ever recorded 14 or more sacks in a season. Willis did so in 1983. Mike Merriweather had 15 in 1985. Green had 14 in 1994. Then James Harrison set the team record with 16 in 2008. Heyward would have to have a career game to match that mark.
Heyward will also have to wait to move up on the sack list. While he has moved into the eighth spot in franchise history with 37 career sacks, he still needs seven more to tie Aaron Smith’s 44 sacks that he recorded from 1999 to 2011.