Sunday night’s game between the Steelers and Chargers included a bizarre moment at the end of a 36-yard, fourth-quarter run by L.A. quarterback Justin Herbert. Steelers defensive lineman Cam Heyward seemed to flip Herbert over and punch him in the stomach.
Heyward was flagged for his conduct. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, he was not fined.
It looked cartoonish, like a move from a professional wrestling match. Yes, it appeared that Heyward punched Herbert. But the punch was half-hearted, lacking full force and momentum.
Heyward said after the game that he didn’t deliberately punch Herbert
“I couldn’t get up, and I fell back on him,” Heyward said. “I know it looks terrible, [but] there was nothing malicious behind it. I don’t think I was trying to punch him, but I know it looks worse than it is in slow motion. I’m sorry if I did anything to offend anybody. I wish I had said more to Justin after, but there was nothing behind it.”
Heyward has always been a player who does the right thing, on and off the field. He deserves the benefit of the doubt. The absence of a fine means that the league decided to give it to him.