Week 1 was a disaster for the Pittsburgh Steelers. They came into the regular season with as much momentum as any team given how well the team looked in training camp and the preseason. But, that momentum was quickly stopped by the San Francisco 49ers.
San Francisco went into Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh and blew out the Steelers, winning 30-7. Pittsburgh didn’t get a first down until their sixth offensive drive of the game, scoring a touchdown right before halftime to gain some hope for the second half. But, that was quickly dashed by a Christian McCaffrey touchdown after halftime.
The loss isn’t actually the worst thing that happened to the Steelers. To make matters worse, they are going to be without star defensive tackle Cam Heyward for the foreseeable future. According to Brooke Pryor of ESPN, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has confirmed that Heyward will be out after undergoing surgery. He didn’t have any other details to share.
Heyward suffered a groin injury against the 49ers, leaving the game with about five minutes remaining in the second quarter. While the team expects him back at some point this season, he is going to be sidelined indefinitely according to The Athletic.
This is a huge blow to the Steelers as Heyward in many ways is the heart and soul of the team’s defense. Despite being 34 years old, he remains a game wrecker from the defensive tackle spot as a run defender and pass rusher.
With him out of the lineup, the Steelers will likely turn to rookie Keeanu Benton, a second-round pick out of Wisconsin. He was one of the few players who performed well against San Francisco in Week 1 and should see more snaps going forward. Isaiahh Loudermilk and DeMarvin Leal will also have opportunities to play more.
Replacing a perennial Pro Bowler certainly is no small task. The Steelers are going to need other players to step up in Heyward’s absence and help turn things around after an ugly 0-1 start to the season.