Steelers' Cam Heyward: 'Nothing Malicious' Behind Punch on Chargers' Justin Herbert

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVNovember 22, 2021

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 21: Cameron Heyward #97 of the Pittsburgh Steelers tackles Justin Herbert #10 of the Los Angeles Chargers during the fourth quarter at SoFi Stadium on November 21, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward says there was "nothing malicious" behind him seemingly punching Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert on Sunday.

"I was running after the ball and I caught my hand under, so when I was trying to get up, I couldn't get up and I fell back on him. I know it looks terrible; there was nothing malicious behind it. I don't think that I was trying to punch him, but it looks worse than it is in slow motion," Heyward told reporters.

Heyward, who was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct but not ejected, said he wished he had done a better job of apologizing to Herbert. The play was reviewed in the NFL's officiating headquarters in New York, which determined the play was not severe enough to require Heyward's disqualification.

Herbert spoke to reporters after the game and said he does not feel Heyward is a dirty player.

"He's a tough player. Football is an emotional game. Whatever happened, happened in the game. We'll shake hands and say 'good game' after the game," Herbert told reporters.

While there may have been no malicious intent from Heyward, we have seen players ejected for far less egregious acts. The NFL reviews ejections on a case-by-case basis, which can lead to some inconsistency. It's understandable that the lack of consistency can be frustrating for fans—especially for an incident that looked so black-and-white on a slow-motion replay.

The Chargers ultimately won the game 41-37.