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Steelers First Round Playoff Loss Through the Eyes of the Players

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As every football fan knows, players have to speak to the media even after losses as tough as this one for Pittsburgh. Here’s a look at how a few Steelers players felt after their first round playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Cameron Heyward

While turnovers plagued Pittsburgh’s offensive game against the Browns, the defense struggled to keep the Cleveland offense off the field.

“Quick passing really got the best of us, and yards after catch,” Heyward said. “Our tackling was bored.”

Much of Heyward’s disappointment was rooted in his inability to prove successful as a defensive leader on Sunday. Heyward recently signed a four-year contract extension, keeping him within the Steelers organization for at least five more seasons.

Sunday’s game was Pittsburgh’s second playoff game in a row in which the defense allowed at least 45 points.

Heyward also explained to the media that the defense never really got into a rhythm.

“We were on our heels the whole entire game,” Heyward said.

In the second half, the defense did manage to get a few three and outs. Ultimately, though, this did not put them in a good enough position to make a comeback.

“We blew it, I can’t sugarcoat it,” Heyward said. “It was all terrible tonight.”

JuJu Smith-Schuster

“Today wasn’t our night,” Smith-Schuster said to the media after Sunday night’s game. “Hopefully the same Browns will show up next week against the next opponent and they go out there and do the same thing they did tonight and have a good game.”

Offensively, the team has been struggling to execute, especially in their more recent games.

“I think it was a lot of miscommunication and little details here and there,” Smith-Schuster said. “We tried to put it together going into the postseason and we just started off very slow and turnovers killed us.”

With Smith-Schuster being a free agent this offseason, he reflected on his time with the veteran players on the team, knowing that Sunday night’s game could have been the last time he played with them.

“It’s tough,” Smith-Schuster said. “I’m so thankful for those guys and they’ve taught me everything I’ve known being on this team.”

Smith-Schuster explained via social media that he wants to stay in Pittsburgh and continue to be a member of the Steelers organization.

T.J. Watt

After Sunday’s matchup, members of the defense, including Watt, were unhappy with their inability to make key stops.

“I’m just very, very disappointed in what I put out there on film, what our team put out there on film,” Watt said in his postgame press conference. “We had a lot of high expectations for this group.”

Watt explained that the conversation in the locker room at halftime was “pretty simple.” Head coach Mike Tomlin just expected the team to make the necessary adjustments to generate stops on defense and score points on offense.

Watt also addressed the absence of key defensive players like Bud Dupree, Devin Bush and Joe Haden.

“We’re not gonna make excuses, that’s not what we’re about,” Watt said. “Obviously, it would have been awesome to have those guys with us, but we weren’t able to have them with us for the past few games and that’s just life in the NFL.”

Watt’s contract will keep him in Pittsburgh through at least the 2021 season.

Featured Image Courtesy of Behind the Steel Curtain.

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