In the week leading up to Sunday’s Browns-Steelers game there were a number of noteworthy statements made in the media by players on both teams. For example, Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt proclaimed, ‘This one’s for Myles,’ while highlighting how he and teammate Myles Garrett bonded after both were suspended by the NFL for large chunks of last season.
Cameron Heyward’s ‘Inflict Punishment’ Comment
Never mind how Hunt’s “this one’s for Myles” dedication aged poorly in light of the outcome of the contest, which the Steelers won, 38-7. In a separate virtual media exchange on Wednesday, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward indicated he would be trying to inflict “good punishment” on Browns starting quarterback Baker Mayfield during the game.
Keep in mind: Mayfield came into Sunday’s showdown with sore ribs, which limited him in practice during the week and left him “questionable” to play against the Steelers.
Asked about his mindset while getting set to defend a “dinged up” quarterback, Heyward said, “As a D-line and as a defense, you want to make sure the quarterback feels you, you want to make sure he’s thinking about the rush. All those other things, those injuries, so be it. We play a physical game, [Mayfield’s] going to come out there and try to be a warrior for his team, but it’s up to us to make him think about that injury during the game.”
As it turns out, Heyward and his Steelers teammates did make Mayfield think about the pass rush. According to Pro Football Focus, Pittsburgh pressured Mayfield on 47% of his drop backs.
The Steelers pass rush pressured Baker Mayfield on over 47% of his dropbacks 🔥 pic.twitter.com/ZyHpCEmSOM
— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) October 18, 2020
Heyward and Co. also registered a number of hard hits on Mayfield …
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) October 18, 2020
… en route to recording four sacks and pressuring him into a pair of costly interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown by Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, which gave Pittsburgh a 10-0 lead.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 18, 2020
Ultimately the Steelers did knock Mayfield out of the game, or at least Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski decided to pull him in favor of backup Case Keenum, to save him from additional punishment.
Mary Kay Cabot’s Tweet
But during the proceedings, Mary Kay Cabot—Browns beat writer for Cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer (also Browns analyst for WKYC-TV)—sent a tweet after Mayfield took a particularly hard hit from Heyward, reminding followers how he “wanted to make [Mayfield] think about his injury.” (It was one of many tweets she sent before, during and after the contest, updating readers on the day’s developments.)
After the game, Heyward replied to her on Twitter, noting that “He never said that…. I said I wanted to inflict good punish[ment] as in punish the Qb as any d lineman would.”
#Browns Baker Mayfield takes a hard shot from Cam Heyward, who wanted to make him think about his injury. Mayfield winces on the bench
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) October 18, 2020
In fact, Heyward said he wanted to make sure a quarterback like Mayfield is thinking about the rush and any existing injury. But he seems concerned that Cabot was insinuating that he’s a dirty player, though that’s probably not the case, or at least she didn’t do so intentionally.
In his reply, Heyward took care to note, “I respect every player and I never want to be known as a dirty player, I respect reporting please respect my words,” he concluded.
Check out Heyward’s reply and all the subsequent comments here:
Never said that. Period. I said I wanted to inflict good punish as in punish the Qb as any d lineman would. Also I said I wanted to make him think about the rush. I respect every player and I never want to be known as dirty player. I respect reporting please respect my words
— Cam Heyward (@CamHeyward) October 18, 2020
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Cam Heyward: Two-Time Winner of ‘The Chief Award’
In light of the above, it’s perhaps worth noting that Cam Heyward won “The Chief Award” in both 2014 and 2019, which is presented annually by the local chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America to the Steelers player that best exemplifies the spirit of cooperation with the media. The award is named in honor of Steelers founder Art Rooney Sr.