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#pounditThursday, January 20, 2022

NFL defends decision not to eject Cam Heyward for punch

Cam Heyward appeared to punch Justin Herbert

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Cam Heyward appeared to get away with punching Justin Herbert on Sunday night, and the officiating crew has faced some criticism for letting it slide. Apparently they did not feel the act was malicious enough, but the Los Angeles Chargers strongly disagree.

With L.A. leading 27-20 in the fourth quarter, Heyward got into it with some Chargers players who were unhappy that he was laying on top of their quarterback. Heyward didn’t appreciate when wide receiver Joshua Palmer tried to pull him off Herbert, so he reacted by taking a swipe at Palmer and seemingly punching Herbert in the gut.

Here’s the video:

Throwing a punch is supposed to lead to an automatic ejection in the NFL, but Heyward remained in the game. Senior vice president of officiating Walt Anderson defended the decision and said the league office in New York agreed with Heyward remaining in the game.

Heyward claimed he simply lost his balance and did not intentionally punch Herbert.

“I was trying to get up and I couldn’t get up and fell back on him,” the veteran said, via Dale Lolley of DK Pittsburgh Sports. “It was terrible. There was nothing malicious behind it. I wasn’t trying to punch him.”

The Chargers weren’t buying it.

The officials may have missed the punch in real time, but it certainly looked intentional. We saw another player ejected for throwing a punch on Sunday (video here), and you could argue Heyward’s stunt was just as egregious.

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