Defensive tackle Cam Heyward has been drawing rave reviews for his standout performance in Buffalo on Sunday, but to nose tackle Tyson Alualu what Heyward was able to inflict upon the Bills was nothing out of the ordinary.
At least not according to the standard the Steelers apply to Heyward.
"Ever since I've been here, even before I got here I see his film, just a big fan of how he plays," Alualu said of Heyward following practice today. "The same thing he does on Sundays is the same thing he does out here on the (practice) field. It's the kind of leader that you want. You want to go out there and not let him down with how you play.
"We see him dominate here at practice. I haven't seen anybody we face stop his bull rush, I think that's 100 percent. I guess it's just you guys noticing it more."
Heyward, a two-time, first-team All Pro, was credited with four tackles, two passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in Sunday's 23-16 season-opening victory.
He seemed to be an ever-present disruptor on the pass rush.
And yes, he was feeling it in a performance Heyward assessed as exceptional and what's expected.
"A little bit of both," he told the DVE Morning Show on Tuesday. "During the game you take it as, 'Man, I'm having a really good game.' But after, you really gotta take it for what it is, you had a good game but it's not gonna be that way every time.
"You gotta almost shut it off and just say 'next up.' We've got a long season, different things are going to happen, there's gonna be different schemes applied to you and it's gonna be up to me to crack the code."
Heyward has been quick to credit the collective effort of the defensive line, in particular, and the defense in general in a game in which the Steelers took a different approach along the way to dominating.
The labor was distinctly divided by design up front (Heyward played only 66 percent of the defensive snaps). Multiple defensive backs were deployed and roles were shared in the slot, at outside cornerback and at free safety. And the Steelers blitzed just once on 79 Buffalo snaps.
But Alualu suspected the defensive trenches were won mostly as a result of "guys winning their blocks.
"You go back and look at the game, you see people winning on the edge, people winning on the inside and having the quarterback not get comfortable and be on rhythm," he said. "When you can affect the quarterback it's always a good sign you're going to have a good day."
Alualu saw enough to conclude Bills quarterback Josh Allen was affected.
"Yeah, I mean just (outside linebacker) T.J. (Watt), Cam hitting the quarterback and everybody kind of just getting after it, letting him know we're right there for the next plays, making him throw the ball maybe a little bit earlier," Alualu said.
Allen threw for 270 yards but the Bills managed one offensive touchdown against the type of defensive effort Alualu maintains is sustainable.
"We feel like that every game," he said. "With the guys that we have up front, the talent, and the work that we put in, we kind of trust that throughout the week.
"When it comes to game day we're just trying to go out there and have fun. We try to execute the game plan and when we can do that it's always fun."