Who owns the Cincinnati Bengals? Well Wikipedia says Mike Brown but my eyes say it’s Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward.
Heyward has completely owned the Bengals offensive line this season and he put the finishing touches on what has been a brutal beatdown with another great showing on Sunday. The Bengals offensive line was destroyed from the inside out as the Steelers defensive end recorded six tackles, one tackle for a loss, one sack and four quarterback hits.
A one-man wrecking crew, Heyward’s lone sack of the day was quite a sight to see. The veteran defensive lineman takes Bengals’ center Trey Hopkins for a ride as he bull-rushes him about seven yards backwards before engulfing Ryan Finley in the backfield. His four quarterback hits were also the most he has ever recorded in one game and now gives him 16 quarterback hits on the season, just six away from his career high of 22.
Finley was not the only reason that Heyward wanted to get into the backfield though as he blew up Joe Mixon back there a few times as well. Just as he made quick work of Hopkins, Heyward quickly disposes of Billy Price on the play above and wraps up Mixon for a loss.
It is easy to say that the Bengals and Heyward likely both have different feelings on one another as they head in two separate paths. The Steelers’ defensive end is probably disappointed he will not see them again this season while the Bengals are likely beyond relieved to not have to see Heyward until next year. In two games against the Bengals this season, Heyward has recorded 3.5 sacks and seven quarterback hits.
More than half of Heyward’s sacks this season have come against the Bengals’ offensive line but that is nothing new for the Steelers’ defensive end. Since 2000, no Steeler has recorded more sacks against the Bengals than Heyward and when it comes to the entire NFL, only Terrell Suggs has sacked a Bengals’ quarterback more often than the Steelers’ defensive captain.
Most Sacks vs Bengals Since 2000 (# of Games)
Terrell Suggs – 12.5 (29G)
Cameron Heyward – 9.5 (17G)
James Harrison – 9.0 (24G)
At the rate that Heyward is going, he has a real shot of eclipsing Suggs very soon, perhaps even by next season. What is also incredible is that despite playing two very different positions, Heyward as a 3-4 defensive end and Harrison as a 3-4 outside linebacker, Heyward has now surpassed Harrison’s career total against the Bengals.
While Heyward’s production against the Bengals has been spectacular it still does not hold a candle to how great his overall play this season has been. Even without Stephon Tuitt, Heyward continues to show why he is one of the league’s best all around defensive linemen. A leader both on and off the field, the Steelers’ veteran defensive end has penned the book on how to captain a team that has battled adversity all year long.
Sunday was just another chapter in that book and it may very well be Heyward’s favorite chapter. While he has inflicted damage on numerous offensive lines this season, no line has gone through as much punishment as the Bengals’ offensive line.