McDonald stiff-arm still talk of Steelers locker room |
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Joe Rutter
Steelers tight end Vance McDonald stiff-arms Chris Conte on his way to a 75-yard touchdown in the first half Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in Tampa, Fla.

The video clip has gone viral and made a social media sensation of Cam Heyward thanks to his reaction to Vance McDonald’s stiff-arm Monday night against Tampa Bay safety Chris Conte.

Heyward dropped to one knee and pointed his arm toward the fallen Conte as McDonald kept running en route to a 75-yard touchdown that sparked the Steelers in a 30-27 victory at Raymond James Stadium.

“Everybody has made a big deal about it,” Heyward said Wednesday afternoon. “I was just astounded by the play. I was a true fan in that moment.”

So was guard David DeCastro, who was inactive for the game because of a broken hand. DeCastro was standing behind Heyward when McDonald flattened Conte. Unlike Heyward, DeCastro kept his emotions in check outwardly. Inside, it was a different feeling.

“I was shocked,” DeCastro said. “I was like, ‘Did that really happen?’ It was amazing to me. It was 5 feet in front of me, and I was stunned. It was, ‘Did anyone else see that?’ ”

Because the Steelers have one fewer day to prepare for their game Sunday night against the Baltimore Ravens, they held an abbreviated film-review session Wednesday morning. It was so abbreviated that the McDonald stiff-arm was the only play coach Mike Tomlin showed to the team.

“I think Vance gets a little bit humbled/embarrassed a little bit, but it was a special play,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “I think everyone has been enjoying that. I am not a social media person, but I’ve been hearing that it has been all over the internet.”

McDonald said he empathized with Conte, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday. Conte injured his knee the previous week against Philadelphia and reportedly was playing against the Steelers with a torn posterior cruciate ligament.

Conte exited the game after being stiff-armed and did not return.

“It’s frustrating to be on that list,” McDonald said. “I’ve had it many times in my career, and I obviously hate hearing that.”

As much as the hit energized the Steelers and helped spark their comeback from an early 7-0 deficit, McDonald saw the play from Conte’s perspective.

“I actually had time this morning thinking of it in the training room while I was getting ready for the day,” he said. “I was thinking, ‘Man, he’s got to walk across the field and to be on the other side of something like that is obviously not the place you want to be.’

“Outside of the game situation and atmosphere, I feel for him. We all have those kind of plays in football.”

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at [email protected] or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

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