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‘We Need To Be Glued To Our Guys:’ Heyward Says Whole Defense Needs To Be Better To Limit Explosive Plays

Despite not having star wide receiver JaMarr Chase, the Cincinnati Bengals’ passing attack had no problem against the Pittsburgh Steelers today in their 37-30 win at Acrisure Stadium. The Bengals completed a reception of 20+ yards to a whopping six different players, as Joe Burrow threw for 355 yards. After the game, Cam Heyward talked about Pittsburgh’s need to play better assignment football and for everyone to do their job to limit explosive plays.

“I think that comes down to our defense as a whole. To know that more that one receiver was doing that, we need to hit home more. We need to be glued to our guys. It comes down to assignment football. It comes down to everybody just executing at a high level and being ready when the ball is thrown their way. Obviously, the rush has to hit home and the secondary’s got to be tight to them, and we can’t give up the YAC. I think a lot of times, we gave up a lot of yards after the catch and really set up their drives,” Heyward said via official transcript provided by the team.

One instance where YAC came back to bite the Steelers was on a catch by little-used receiver Trenton Irwin, who was elevated from the practice squad yesterday. Irwin, who had a touchdown earlier in the game, caught a ball along the sideline and instead of just being tackled or pushed out of bounds, was able to turn upfield and turn what should have been a 14 or 15-yard reception into a 32-yard reception. That play helped set up running back Samaje Perine’s third touchdown of the game which was essentially the clincher for the Bengals, as it put them up by two scores with under five minutes to go.

The pass rush also could’ve been better tonight. It was quiet in the first half, and while the Steelers were able to sack Burrow twice in the second half, they had some missed opportunities where Burrow was able to escape and make a play or throw the ball away. Letting the Bengals’ offense live another down when you have an opportunity to cost them a few yards with a sack is tough, and it’s something that hurt the Steelers tonight.

Simply put, the defense wasn’t good enough. Like the offense, they had their moments, but in the end, they allowed 37 points. That’s not going to win many games. Across the board, the group has to be better. Both units didn’t play a complete game, and when you’re playing a more talented team, you have to be able to put it all together. Pittsburgh wasn’t able to do so tonight, and as a result, they’re going to bed as a 3-7 team.

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