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fordfixer
01-01-2010, 09:54 AM
Bires: Only Steelers 'lay down'

By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times
http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sport ... -down.html (http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sports_details/article/1501/2009/december/31/bires-only-steelers-lay-down.html)

Thursday December 31, 2009 12:13 AM

Times photo by LUCY SCHALY BEST OF CARSON: Lamarr Woodley sacks Bengals QB Carson Palmer.

PITTSBURGH ó LaMarr Woodley believes the Steelersí playoff drive may come up short because ďteams will lay down.Ē

Woodley claims New England and Cincinnati will in essence lose on purpose Sunday because they fear meeting the Steelers in the wild-card round.

Woodley, a blossoming star at outside linebacker, is entitled to his opinion. But as far as how the Patriots and Bengals approach their final game of the regular season, itís no business of the Steelers.

There is no rule prohibiting NFL teams that have already clinched playoff berths from pulling their starters for all or parts of games that mean little to them.

Last week, Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell was questioned and criticized for yanking his starters ó superstar quarterback Peyton Manning in particular ó against the New York Jets. Had the Colts won that game, the Steelersí playoff chances would be much better than they are right now.

Critics ripped Caldwell for not only ruining the Coltsí chances for an unbeaten season but, more importantly, for compromising the integrity of the game.

Obviously, Woodley is questioning the integrity of the Patriots and Bengals, who may both have to win in order for the Steelers (8-7) to qualify for the playoffs.

ďAll of them will lay down. No one wants to see Pittsburgh in there,Ē Woodley said.

Woodley may be right about teams fearing the Steelers. Still, that doesnít mean Bill Belichick or Marvin Lewis are wrong if they pull their star QBs (Tom Brady and Carson Palmer) or other starters at any point in their games against Houston (8-7) or the Jets (8-7).

The top priority for Belichick and Lewis is to have their teams prepared as best as possible for their wild-card games next weekend.

If they want to rest starters for fear of them getting hurt and missing the playoffs, then thatís their prerogative.
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In fact, thatís exactly what the Steelers did in the last week of the 2004 regular season in a game that directly impacted the second of two AFC wild-card spots.

In that game at Buffalo, the Steelers, 14-1 at the time, didnít start Ben Roethlisberger or Jerome Bettis.

Hines Ward only played a quarter. Troy Polamalu was pulled early. Even Brian St. Pierre, a third-team quarterback, replaced Tommy Maddox late in the third quarter.

As it turned out, the Steelers won 29-24 and eliminated the Bills.

The outcome is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that the Steelers didnít play key players for fear of them getting hurt.

Thatís exactly what Tony Dungy did in í04 by starting Jim Sorgi in the last game against Denver, which routed the Colts and claimed the final wild-card spot.

Thatís what Caldwell did this past Sunday by benching Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and other Indy starters in the third quarter.

Itís what Belichick and Lewis might do this Sunday.

If by chance the Steelers win in Miami and get into the playoffs because other teams in the hunt lose their games, more power to them.

But if the Steelers fail to quality, even if they beat the Dolphins, they have no one to blame but themselves.

When you lose to Kansas City, Oakland and Cleveland down the stretch, maybe you donít deserve to be in the playoffs.

If anyone is guilty of ďlaying down,Ē itís the Steelers for the way they played against the Chiefs, Raiders and Browns.

Mike Bires can be reached online at mbires@timesonline.com

Mister Pittsburgh
01-01-2010, 10:23 AM
100% true article. Agree with all of it.

Discipline of Steel
01-02-2010, 12:01 PM
Agreed, except for the point where we dont deserve to be in the playoffs. If we happen to get in, then they deserve it as much as any other team that makes it. Although we lost some headscratchers, we had quality wins to counterbalance that. So if they fight back and make it, they deserve it alright.

Wolfhound45
01-02-2010, 07:07 PM
If by chance the Steelers win in Miami and get into the playoffs because other teams in the hunt lose their games, more power to them.

But if the Steelers fail to quality, even if they beat the Dolphins, they have no one to blame but themselves.

When you lose to Kansas City, Oakland and Cleveland down the stretch, maybe you donít deserve to be in the playoffs.

If anyone is guilty of ďlaying down,Ē itís the Steelers for the way they played against the Chiefs, Raiders and Browns.

:Agree