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fordfixer
09-17-2009, 05:10 AM
Bettis rips Steelers' running game

By Mark Kaboly, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, September 17, 2009
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 43532.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_643532.html)

Jerome Bettis was one of the most physical and hardest hitting running backs of all time.

It appears he can lay a stinging lick with a pen, too.

This time, the punishment Bettis is dishing out is directed at his former teammates.

Bettis was highly critical of the Steelers in his debut column on SI.com called Bus Stops.

Bettis called out his protege, Willie Parker, along with running backs Rashard Mendenhall and Frank Summers. He also didn't have many nice things to say about the offensive line he once ran behind and the Steelers coaching staff for not trying to improve the unit in the offseason.

"This problem isn't anything new, and I blame the coaching staff for not addressing the line in the offseason," Bettis wrote. "How did they rationalize not doing anything about it? Well, they won a Super Bowl. They won't be so lucky twice in a row."

Word of Bettis' criticism spread around the Steelers locker room Wednesday when the team reconvened in preparation for Sunday's game in Chicago. A large sample of players actually agreed with the future Hall of Famer's assessment on the issue of the offensive line play.

"To a certain degree, he's not lying," right tackle Willie Colon said. "We only rushed for 1.6 (yards per carry), and we weren't as good as we expected to be, so you're going to take knocks like that. I'm not mad at J.B. for what he said."

Despite beating Tennessee last week in overtime, the Steelers rushed for a mere 36 yards on 23 carries. It was the fewest rushing yards in an opener for the Steelers since gaining 30 against Baltimore in 2000.

Also, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sacked four times and hit another eight times by the Titans.

"Ben will get hurt. Ben will miss games. And they don't have a line to run behind without Ben," Bettis wrote.

Parker's 13 carries for 19 yards was the lowest total of his career in a game in which he didn't leave early because of injury.

"He may have a point," wide receiver Hines Ward said. "If Jerome has an opinion, if that is what he believes, then so be it. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that we didn't run the ball well."

Parker didn't have much reaction when told about Bettis' harsh words.

"He is getting paid to talk about football," Parker said. "I will still go out with him and everything. I won't bring it up not one time."

Added Parker: "Anybody who watched the game knows we need a better run game."

Bettis started 112 games in 10 years with the Steelers and rushed for more than 13,000 yards over a 13-year NFL career, which is fifth-best all-time.

Left tackle Max Starks is the only offensive lineman who blocked for Bettis in 2005, his final season when the Steelers won Super Bowl XL. Starks played right tackle that season.

"I don't know if I would take too much stock in what he says," Starks said. "He is saying it from a spectator's point of view. If that is what he feels he has to say, then cool."

Ward said Bettis' words won't change his view of his former teammate.

"Jerome is Jerome. I love Jerome. We love Jerome," Ward said. "I know deep down inside he is cheering us on."