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2022 South Side Questions: Can Heyward Close Out 2022 With Another 10-Sack Season?

The Steelers are at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, informally known as the South Side facility, nearing the end of the regular season. It’s where they otherwise train all year round, and the facility that Burt Lauten insists everybody refers to by its full name.

There are still unsettled questions that need answering, even deep into the year. They entered the process with questions in the starting lineup, in the scheme, and elsewhere, but new problems always arise that need to be resolved.

Even questions about who’s starting and when may not have satisfactory answers in their finality, as midseason changes are certainly quite possible, for some positions more than others. We’re also feeling out how the new coordinator posts—or posts in new contexts—end up playing out.

There’s never any shortage of questions when it comes to football, and we’ll be discussing them here on a daily basis for the community to “talk amongst yourselves”, as Linda Richman might say on Coffee Talk.

Question: Can Cameron Heyward finish with another 10-plus-sack season?

Cameron Heyward became just the second defensive lineman in team history last season to post multiple seasons of 10-plus sacks, tying a record set by Keith Willis in the 1980s (counting only official sack statistics).

After getting on a roll and recording three and a half sacks in the past two games, he now sits at 8.5 for the season, one and a half away from his third double-digit sack plateau. Should he reach that mark, he would be the only Steelers defensive lineman to do so.

It’s far from a shoo-in. The past two games are the only stretch of the entire season in which he has posted more than one full sack in any two-game span, marking his first two and only multi-sack games in 2022.

But he’s not unfamiliar with strong finishes. Just last year, for example, he recorded four consecutive games to finish out the regular season with at least half a sack, recording 3.5 in total in that span. He also had three sacks in the final two games of the 2017 season when he recorded a personal-best 12 on the year (in just 15 games).

It’s a personal statistic, of course, and isn’t exactly going to get the Steelers into the playoffs, but it is a testament to just how good Heyward continues to be, having played some of the best football of his career since turning 30 years old (now 33).

He has 62 tackles on the year in total, among them 12 tackles for loss, with 8.5 sacks, 18 quarterback hits, a forced fumble, and three batted passes. Another very strong year and one for which he was unjustly snubbed in the Pro Bowl voting.

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