Every year following the release of the NFL schedule, while fans, media members and even some players go down the schedules for their respective teams trying to identify wins and losses to come up with record predictions, there’s also the identification of one or two “trap games.”
A trap game is a game played against an opponent generally deemed to be easy to defeat, at least on paper. As a result a person or team may not prepare as thoroughly as they would for a formidable opponent. Often this attitude and its attendant’s lack of preparation leads to a loss.
Pittsburgh Steelers star defensive lineman and team captain Cameron Heyward adamantly believes trap games are not real.
Appearing on the latest episode of his podcast, “Not Just Football w/ Cam Heyward” the Steelers’ face of the franchise shut down any talk of trap games in the NFL, especially when it comes to the Steelers.
“I’m gonna give you that look because it’s bull crap. These teams are looking to beat you every week. Sometimes they get your number, sometimes you get theirs. But you have to be willing to be able to play out there. You don’t know what’s gonna happen,” Heyward said to co-host Hayden Walsh, according to video via the NFL on ESPN YouTube page. “There’s always availability that somebody can get beat on any given day. You look at this schedule, it’s cool to look at on a paper, but I’m not gonna be scared of it or throw caution into the wind and say, ‘Oh, we gotta do this. We gotta win this game because the next game is gonna be tough. Or we got trap games.’
“Trap games, trap games. Trap games. We’re talking about trap games.”
Clearly, Heyward is not a fan of the belief in trap games.
While he is correct in the fact that it is the NFL and any team can beat another team any given week — the saying isn’t “Any Given Sunday” for a reason (great film, by the way) — there are still some trap games that happen every year. Games that should be clearcut wins for one team entering a matchup all of a sudden lays an egg and loses a game it had no business losing.
The Steelers really didn’t have any trap games last season outside of maybe the Week 4 matchup against the New York Jets, with the Buffalo Bills looming in Week 5 and coming off of a tough battle with the Cleveland Browns the Week before on Thursday Night Football in Week 3. Of course, the Steelers did end up losing that Week 4 matchup against the Jets, which lent some credence to that trap game belief.
Heyward won’t hear any of it though.
“Trap games are not real. It’s all for fans. It’s all being pubbed out by people who haven’t played football before,” Heyward added. “There’s nobody in an NFL locker room that talks about trap games.”
Maybe the players don’t talk about it; coaches, too. That’s certainly possible.
But trap games do exist on the schedule each and every year. Players can talk all they want about “one week at a time” and simply focusing on that opponent each week, but it’s natural for people to want to peak ahead, see what’s coming and maybe sometimes let the brain wander, especially in a long, grueling season.
It’s up to players like Heyward though, as a team captain and face of the franchise, to ensure that the Steelers don’t fall victim to trap games. We’ll see if the Steelers can avoid those trap games in 2023 with one of the easier schedules in the league.