Steelers’ Darrius Heyward-Bey on unsportsmanlike penalty: ‘It shouldn’t have happened’
Darrius Heyward-Bey wouldn’t expand on what was said by whom. But whether he believes deep down he was at fault or not, the veteran receiver is willing to take responsibility for the unsportsmanlike flag he drew Monday.
“It shouldn’t have happened,” Heyward-Bey said “Yeah, simple as that.”
The typically mild-mannered Heyward-Bey clearly did not agree with an illegal shift penalty called on him with 3 minutes and 10 seconds left in the Pittsburgh Steelers win at Tampa Bay. It wiped out a Jordan Berry punt that was downed at the 1-yard-line.
Television replays showed Heyward-Bey jawing with line judge Steve Stelljes after the illegal shift penalty; Stelljes tossed another flag, this one for 15 yards.
The sequence cost the Steelers 19 yards in field position during a three-point game late in the fourth quarter.
“I didn’t agree with the first one,” Heyward-Bey said. “If he wanted to throw the second one, that’s on him.
“I guess it’s a learning point for the 53-man roster. I can’t put my teammates in that situation, my team in that situation.”
The Steelers’ third-oldest player and a respected presence in the locker room, Heyward-Bey is one of the leaders on special teams. His penalties were emblematic of an erratic start to the season for that unit: in addition to “blow the line” punting and placekicking, the Steelers have drawn 12 accepted penalties on special teams.
For perspective, the Steelers have as many penalties on special teams as the New York Giants have as a team in all three phases.
“We just have got to be more disciplined,” Heyward-Bey said. “We know the rules, we understand how football is played. When you’re in the open field you’ve got to make sure you’re not holding and not doing the things that are gonna cause penalties.”
Six times Monday, the Steelers’ special teams were flagged. In Week 5, the unit was flagged five times.
“You can’t have personal fouls like I got – you can’t have that,” Heyward-Bey said. “You’re going to have holding; its football. But the other stuff you’ve got to make sure you keep that out.
“You go into every game hoping you can clean that up,” he said moments later. “But it’s football, refs are going to throw flags, that’s part of your job. We just have to make sure we are doing our part.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at [email protected] or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.