His stat sheet might not instantly pop out at you as amazing, but his tape sure does. Pittsburgh Steelers veteran defensive lineman Cameron Heyward is having himself another excellent season, even if he notched ‘only’ his second sack of the year last night against the Seattle Seahawks.
It was a milestone marker, too, as it marked his 60th sack in his career. That ties him with Joey Porter for the fifth-most sacks in Steelers history—or, officially, the third-most behind only James Harrison and Jason Gildon if you do not include the pre-sack-era figures of Joe Greene and L.C. Greenwood.
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He is the first defensive lineman in the official sack era to hit 60 sacks, and he broke a tie with their first excellent defensive line pass rusher of that era in Keith Willis, who up until Heyward was the only lineman in team history to record double-digit sacks in a single season—which the former did twice.
“I never really thought about it, but I’ve enjoyed my time here”, Heyward said after the game when he was asked for his thoughts about hitting the 60-sack mark and tying Porter. “It’s not just me getting those sacks. It’s a lot of people helping me get those. A lot of teammates, whether it’s blitzes or running stunts or winning my one-on-ones, but having the DBs behind me who have been great”.
“I’m just honored to be tied with a guy like Joey Porter. That’s a guy that I respect, that is a legend in my book”, he went on. Porter was drafted in the third round in 1999 and started 106 of 122 games in Pittsburgh over eight years, before playing five more seasons elsewhere. He served on the team’s coaching staff from 2014 through 2018, as well, as the outside linebackers coach for most of that time.
Porter actually has 98 sacks in his NFL career, which is significantly more than any Steeler has—Harrison’s record is 80.5, though he has 84.5 in his career. But the reality is no Steeler is anywhere near any top lists.
There are 36 players in NFL history who have officially recorded 100 or more sacks in their careers—57 if you include Pro Football Reference’s pre-1982 research, which is not official. Harrison, the Steelers’ all-time leading sacker, ranks tied for 64th, officially, or 76 if you include only his sacks with the Steelers.
Heyward is now tied for 128th all time officially, with Calvin Pace and Brian Robison. But it won’t be long before T.J. Watt passes him. Watt currently ranks tied for 151st with 56.5 in his career, seven of which have already come this year in five games.
But this is about Heyward, who plays a much less glamorous position. There’s a reason he keeps making All-Pro teams even if his stats might not look as gaudy as some others.