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‘Don’t Think I’ve Ever Gotten A Jet Sweep In My Life:’ Heyward Talks Game-Sealing Play

In an unforgettable victory against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Pittsburgh Steelers went to an unlikely player in their final drive. After a Cameron Sutton interception, the Steelers had to run the last 29 seconds off the clock, as the Raiders still had their timeouts. In doing so, they called a jet sweep to rookie tight end Connor Heyward, which he took for 22 yards to seal the victory.

“It’s a cool moment,” Heyward said about his game-sealing jet sweep according to Steelers.com. “I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a jet sweep in my life, so it was cool. We rep that at practice. Always being ready for the unexpected. You never know when your number will be called.”

Upon being drafted, Heyward was best known as the brother of the team’s All-Star defensive end Cameron Heyward. However, he has made a name for himself in his rookie year with several memorable moments and meaningful contributions. Indeed, he got his first career touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons, perfectly commemorating his late father.

Coming into the NFL, Heyward’s position was ambiguous, to say the least. Though he is on the roster as a tight end, he played running back in college, leading Michigan State with 118 carries and 529 yards in his Sophomore season. He eventually had to move to the tight end position due to Kenneth Walker III, who is now playing well for Seattle. As the team’s top tight end in his senior season, he grabbed 35 catches for 326 yards.

As a rookie, the majority of Heyward’s snaps have come on special teams. Indeed, 256 of his 393 snaps have come on special teams, while 102 have come in line, 26 in the slot, and 9 lined up wide according to PFF. Notably, none of his snaps have come in the backfield. The game-sealing jet sweep was Heyward’s first carry of the season and his longest since 2018. For an offense with more than a few criticisms of repetitive play calling, they mixed it up at the perfect moment.

Much like fullback Derek Watt, Heyward is carving himself an important role on the roster on special teams, which is certainly not a bad one. From blocking to catching and making tackles on kickoffs, he wears many hats as the third tight end on the roster.

Heyward will play out his rookie contract with quarterback Kenny Pickett, receiver George Pickens, and others. So far, this rookie draft class is panning out well, and Heyward is having himself a solid rookie season for a sixth-round pick.

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