Cameron Heyward didn’t quite put up the numbers that he would normally like over the course of the 2020 season. But he wasn’t necessarily too far from it, either, and the 10-year veteran understands as well as anyone that statistics don’t necessarily measure individual success.
In an interview with Missi Matthews for the team’s website, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ most decorated defender reflected on the year that was, including his own numbers—which included four sacks, the fewest he has ever had in a healthy season since entering the starting lineup.
“Stats are a little bit a part of the game”, Heyward admitted, “because you can effect and not record a stat. For me, I have to take that into consideration. I understand those were not my numbers I wanted”, he added, and said, “I look forward to bouncing those back”.
Over the course of the three previous seasons, he averaged nearly 10 sacks per season, with a career-high 12 in 2017, which is the second-most ever recorded by a defensive lineman in team history. He also posted single-digit tackles for loss for the first time since becoming a starter and in a healthy season. But he did capture his first interception. And ultimately, the stat he most covets is wins, especially playoff wins.
“At the end of the day, all I care about is Ws, going forward”, he told Matthews. “If you won a Super Bowl and you only have one sack, you know, that’s great for me. That’s my ultimate goal, and I won’t stop until we get one”.
Heyward was the 31st pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. The 31st selection in most drafts is significant, because it’s the spot where the loser of the Super Bowl selects. That was the case for the Steelers, who reached the Super Bowl during the 2010 season, but fell to the Green Bay Packers.
That is the highest they have drafted since 2009, following the last time that they actually won the Super Bowl the year before, and Heyward would very much love to see them in that draft slot again. It’s always nice to be able to bring in a bona fide blue-chip player through the draft, but unless you trade up and give up the farm in the process, it comes at the expense of on-field success.
While Pittsburgh has gone 12-4 or better in two of the past four seasons, the team has failed to win a single playoff game since the 2016 season, tied for the longest drought in that regard that they have faced in some time. Heyward knows his clock could be ticking as he enters his 11th season, and that it’s time to start rattling off these January and February dubs.