Heyward Believes Daniels Did Right Thing After Late Hit On Pickett: ‘I Love When O-Linemen Stick Up For Their Players’

Late in the third quarter of the Pittsburgh Steelers 38-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett took a late hit from Bills safety Damar Hamlin. After the play, James Daniels shoved Hamlin after the whistle and was flagged for unnecessary roughness (although he was almost ejected). On his Not Just Football podcast, Cameron Heyward talked about Daniels sticking up for Pickett.

“I don’t condone violence. Let’s get that straight. But I love when O-linemen stick up for their players, their quarterbacks. There is a sense of protection you need to have as an O-lineman. I’m not saying you have to go around doing anything illegal, but I’m protecting my quarterback. I thought it was a late hit. The way James Daniels went about it, he should.”

Heyward compared the event to when Maurkice Pouncey stuck up for Ben Roethlisberger against the Carolina Panthers, and he also said that quarterbacks appreciate moments like that. I don’t think Hamlin had any ill intentions making the late hit on Pickett, his college teammate. I also think the hit was late enough that it should have been penalized, especially when you see some of the flags that have been thrown this weekend in the name of protecting the quarterback. Different officials have different ways of going about some of these calls, and obviously, John Hussey thought the hit was legal.

All that being said, Daniels would take that penalty 100 out of 100 times to let Pickett know that the line has his back. At that point in the game, the penalty didn’t matter. But even if it was a close game, you have to defend your quarterback. Daniels did that, and it’s something that you really love to see out of a guy who’s supposed to be a leader on this offensive line.

And for all the flack the o-line got in the preseason, they haven’t been all that bad. Sure, they need more push in the run game-that’s one area where they’ve struggled. But in terms of protecting the quarterback, they’ve been a whole lot better than I think anyone expected. With Pickett making his first career start, Daniels did the right thing to show the rookie they won’t allow anyone to mess with him, intentional or not. That’s what a leader does, and in a game where pretty much nothing went even remotely right, at least somebody did the right thing.

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