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Unsurprisingly, Mahomes Says He Has To ‘Make Sure To Account’ For Watt, Heyward On Every Snap

Like many great defenders before them, Pittsburgh Steelers stars TJ Watt and Cameron Heyward can single-handedly take over a game and wreck it for the opposing offense, helping lead the team to wins.

Watt has certainly done that quite a bit this season in just 15 games, recording 22.5 sacks to tie the NFL’s single-season record held by New York Giants’ Hall of Famer Michael Strahan, while also adding 39 quarterback hits, seven passes defensed, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in a year that should result in the NFL’s 2021 Defensive Player of the Year award.

While Watt has drawn the attention and garnered many of the headlines for the Steelers’ defense, Heyward has been the quiet, steady stalwart along a depleted defensive line. For the second time in his great career — one that could result in enshrinement in Canton one day — Heyward recorded 10 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, 17 quarterback hits, a team-high nine passes defensed and one interception, adding an unexpected element to his game as guy that consistently bats passes at the line of scrimmage.

Ahead of Sunday’s Wild Card matchup between the Chiefs and Steelers at Arrowhead Stadium, Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes stated loudly and clearly that he has to make sure to account for guys like Watt and Heyward on every snap, especially when he tries to extend plays with his legs outside of the pocket.

“He’s a special player {Watt]. I mean I don’t know what runs in that family, but they have great football players over there and you said it; T.J. is not only special, but as far as the way he can bend to get to the quarterback, but the effort he plays with,” Mahomes said to reporters Thursday, according to video via Chiefs.com. “They have a lot of guys like that over there, Cam Heyward, (Alex) Highsmith. I mean they have a lot of guys that play hard the entire game and they continuously play and go and go. So, for me, it’s about whenever I do make those extended long plays, not making a bad play happen.

“Those guys will kind of be around me the whole time following the play so when I scramble and step up in the pocket when the stuff’s not there, I have to make sure I account for them because they’re not going to give up on the play.”

The last time the two teams met, Watt was dealing with cracked ribs, played less than 40% of the snaps and was largely a non-factor, while Heyward was taken out of the equation by a tough left side of the line in Orlando Brown Jr. and Joe Thuney. Heyward did have six tackles and a sack in the 36-10 loss on Dec. 26, but he wasn’t his usual self.

With a healthy Watt opposite him along the defensive front, Heyward and the Steelers should be able to get more pressure on Mahomes and throw his timing off on Sunday. And who knows; maybe Mahomes slips up while trying to extend the play and loses track of Watt or Heyward in a key spot, resulting in a game-changing play in favor of the Steelers.

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