View Full Version : Up to the challenge

10-08-2008, 01:49 AM
Up to the challenge

By John Harris

Tuesday, October 7, 2008
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 591960.htm (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_591960.htm)

Steelers' Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison sat in front of his locker late Sunday night, tugging off his soiled uniform and looking anything but pleased following a hard-fought 26-21 win against Jacksonville.

Harrison had other things on his mind; namely, if he would be fined by the league for a roughing the passer penalty called against him in the fourth quarter.

"Coach, I need your help," said Harrison, motioning toward coach Mike Tomlin.

Tomlin, believing that Harrison was referring to a problem with his uniform, said he couldn't help. But when Harrison told Tomlin he was concerned about the penalty, Tomlin said not to worry.

"Don't question the call," Tomlin said. "Don't worry about the call."

It was a different Tomlin who strode around happily in the visiting locker room after the Steelers improved to 4-1 and snapped a four-game losing streak against the Jaguars.

As usual, Tomlin attempted to shield his true feelings from reporters in the postgame news conference, booming one cliche after another about this being just another game.

Nobody believed him.

Normally, Tomlin already has spoken with players individually at their lockers before reporters are permitted to enter the locker room following a game. However, Tomlin's upbeat demeanor Sunday night was a clear departure from his normal behavior.

Clearly, this was a special win.

"Man, I love them all, truth be known. This is the most satisfying win because this is the one you are feeling right now," Tomlin said. "This is a great team win."

Because of injuries to starters Casey Hampton and Brett Keisel on defense and Willie Parker and Kendall Simmons on offense, along with other key contributors not being healthy enough to play, Tomlin challenged his players as they practiced for Jacksonville, a team that defeated the Steelers twice last season.

Tomlin reminded them that a 4-1 record going into their bye week would feel much better than a 3-2 record.

"We had a statement, 'The more you can do,' and we called on a lot of people to do that," Tomlin said. "Guys stepped outside their lines and delivered, delivered big."

Tomlin also spoke about the Steelers being underdogs against an opponent they hadn't defeated since 2004. Nose tackle Chris Hoke said the players took Tomlin's words seriously and accepted them as their own.

"We talked about it. This is a big win going into the bye week," Hoke said. "We get two weeks now to rest and heal up.

"They put us as underdogs," said Hoke, Hampton's replacement, who was part of a defense that limited Jacksonville to 38 yards rushing. "We feel like we're a pretty good team. To come down here and be an underdog fired us up."

"Nobody believed in us," said receiver Nate Washington, who had his best game of the season with six receptions for 94 yards and a 48-yard touchdown catch from Ben Roethlisbeger in the second quarter. "But we believed in ourselves."

John Harris is a sports writer for the Tribune-Review. He can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.