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fordfixer
01-26-2011, 02:55 AM
On the Steelers: Wallace likes way youth has served
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11026/1120585-66.stm

Most of those who will watch the Super Bowl 11 days from now will know the difference between the Mike Wallace they see in a Steelers uniform and the one who once owned Sunday night television for "60 Minutes" on CBS.

That was not the case the previous time Wallace, the receiver, played against the Green Bay Packers. He was a rookie, a third-round pick and on that day -- Dec. 10, 2009, 54 1/2 weeks ago -- and made just his third NFL start because the Steelers opened with three wide receivers.

By the time he was finished, Wallace made sure more football fans recognized him. He caught just two passes, but what receptions they were -- the first and last plays of the game for the Steelers. The first ended in a 60-yard touchdown from Ben Roethlisberger for a 7-0 lead. His last was a 19-yard touchdown in which he did his Santonio Holmes Super Bowl foot-tapping imitation, only this time on the left sideline in the end zone.

The score came with 0:00 left on the clock, culminated a wild fourth quarter and, with Jeff Reed's PAT, gave the Steelers a 37-36 victory against the Packers in Heinz Field to end their five-game losing streak.

Wallace's touchdown was the sixth score in the fourth quarter between the teams, three each.

That back-and-forth game, one of the most exciting in the 10 years Heinz Field has existed, is a blur to many Steelers today, but, if similar action takes place in Cowboys Stadium Feb. 6, few will forget it.

"I remember it won the ballgame," Wallace said of his catch. "I remember being happy. I mean that was probably the best feeling I ever had besides [Sunday] night when we were going to the Super Bowl."

Wallace has managed to be happy, even though many receivers would pout over what has happened to him in his first two postseason games. He earned the right this season to join those wide receiver divas who do little but complain over the way they are used, the way they are not used, the treatment they get from quarterbacks and cornerbacks and their salary. Many of them are forever demonstratively signaling first down when they catch a 6-yard pass or pulling out imaginary flags and looking at an official when they drop another pass in tight coverage.

Not Wallace. After a rookie season in which he led the NFL with an average of 19.4 yards per catch, he replaced the diva that was Santonio Holmes at split end and flourished. He led the Steelers with 60 catches, with 1,257 yards receiving, with 10 touchdown receptions and led the AFC with his average of 21.0 yards per catch.

The past two opposing defenses apparently woke up to those facts and tried to take him out of the game by assigning a cornerback and a safety. The result? Wallace has four catches for 26 yards and no touchdowns in two postseason games. He had three catches for 20 yards against Baltimore, one for 6 against the New York Jets.

The other result: The Steelers are headed to their eighth Super Bowl after piling up 55 playoff points, four per game over their average during the season. Not only was there no whimper from Wallace, he was happy to provide the distraction so others could benefit.

"I mean, it's going to be like that, it's the playoffs," Wallace said. "I don't have a problem with it. I think it really opens up things for other guys. I'm still taking guys out of plays and getting up top, still creating for other guys. They're making plays, and I'm happy."

Wallace had a chance to make one of his patented, long touchdown catches in the second quarter against the Jets. With the ball on the Steelers' 38, first down, Roethlisberger threw deep down the right side for Wallace, but not deep enough. Wallace had a step on All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, but he had to wait for the ball. Revis caught up and knocked it away.

If Roethlisberger had aired it out a little more, no one would be asking Wallace about his four receptions in two playoff games.

Wallace is among many important, young players making their first Super Bowl appearance, and among reasons the Steelers are in the game for the third time in the past seasons. They include their top two rushers, Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman, and three rookies: Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey and Nos. 3 and 4 wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown.

Sanders and Brown have been among the beneficiaries of Wallace's double teams. Sanders has five playoff catches for 74 yards. Brown has 89 yards on four receptions, including two of the most important in the postseason -- his 58-yarder to set up the winner against the Ravens and his 14-yarder on third down to clinch the victory against the Jets.

"That's pretty funny isn't it, a third-and-6 to win the game for a rookie from Central Michigan?" coach Mike Tomlin said of Brown's last reception Sunday. "Those guys have proven that they belong for better part of the second half of the season. It's awesome, and I am happy for him."

Tomlin made that even clearer to his team this week.

"He put it simple," Wallace said. "We need to make plays. He put the young guys who have never really been in that situation on the board because we've never been there. We didn't take it as any other thing but that we need to make plays and help our team win because we have a lot of young guys and a lot of the young guys are a big part of what's going on on the field on Sunday.

"Without us, we probably wouldn't be going to the Super Bowl. I mean the young guys have made some really big plays in the playoffs, that's all he was saying. We really needed it."

And vice versa for the Steelers.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11026/11 ... z1C7ckKPAs (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11026/1120585-66.stm#ixzz1C7ckKPAs)

fordfixer
01-26-2011, 02:59 AM
Cook: Steelers' Legursky crams, just in case
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11026/1120582-87.stm
Most of the Steelers spent their off day Tuesday preparing for their trip to Dallas for Super Bowl XLV, taking care of all the details for their families, making final arrangements for flights, hotel rooms and tickets to the big game.

Maurkice Pouncey, Doug Legursky and Trai Essex spent a big part of the day preparing for the Green Bay Packers.

Centers, you know?

Pro Bowler Pouncey, backup Legursky and emergency backup Essex were at the Steelers' South Side headquarters with offensive line coach Sean Kugler, getting their weekly advanced look at the game plan, which will be given to the rest of the team today. Here's hoping Pouncey wasn't wasting his time because of a left high-ankle sprain that makes him questionable -- at best -- for the game Feb. 6. Here's also hoping Legursky paid extra attention.

Just in case.

"I'll be ready if I have to go," Legursky said. "I'm ready every week."

Legursky didn't let the Steelers down Sunday night in the AFC championship game against the New York Jets after Pouncey went down midway through the first quarter when linebacker Bryan Thomas rolled up the back of his leg. Running back Rashard Mendenhall scored on a 1-yard touchdown run on the next play for a 7-0 lead, which quickly became 24-0. Legursky did well enough with his run-blocking that Mendenhall finished with 121 yards. His pass-blocking was good enough that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger stayed relatively clean, sacked just twice. The Steelers held on, 24-19.

That extra film work with Pouncey, Essex and Kugler the previous Tuesday night paid off for Legursky. He made all the line's blocking calls, seemingly with little trouble.

"There was no dropoff whatsoever," said offensive tackle Jonathan Scott, who knows a little something about stepping in for a fallen teammate, putting his hand in the pile and keeping the standard as the standard.

Column note: The second half of the above paragraph is dedicated to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

Back to Legursky ...

"He played his tail off. I'm so happy for him. That's my guy, man," Pouncey gushed.

A little love for a valued teammate is nice, but Pouncey and, especially Scott, might have been guilty of embellishment. That has little to do with the two snaps that Legursky botched with Roethlisberger, the second resulting in a fourth-quarter safety and prompting Legursky to fess up, "That was 100 percent my fault. I was trying to get my arms under the guy in front of me and I short-armed the snap." It has just about everything to do with Pouncey, who, though a rookie, has been called, "The Freak," by Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians because of his smarts and physical skills. Few NFL starting centers -- let alone backups -- are as good.

But it's fair to think the Steelers wouldn't be in their third Super Bowl in six seasons without players such as Legursky and Scott. Kugler has done a terrific job plugging the leaks that seem to develop each week on the line. Legursky started four games at right guard early in the season when Essex was hurt, has played at left guard at times and gets the occasional snap as the blocking fullback in the team's goal-line offense. Scott has played both tackles, taking over as the starter on the left side when Max Starks was lost for the season with a neck injury in the Cincinnati game Nov. 8. Starting right guard Ramon Foster has played multiple positions. So has Essex. Only Pouncey and right tackle Flozell Adams have started every game at their regular position.

"I don't think there's ever been an O-line like this one," Legursky said.

Clearly, that standard-is-the-standard sermon that Tomlin always preaches means something to the proud linemen. Enough people have blamed them when the Steelers' offense has struggled. I'm here this morning to applaud them.

The other claps you hear are coming from Roethlisberger.

"You know me, I'm the biggest fan of our offensive line regardless of how much bad stuff is written about them and how supposedly terrible they are. They are a great group. They are a very close group. They will do anything for me, which makes it a little more special. They find ways to fill in and step up and play for each other. I can't say enough good things about those guys."

The Steelers are down to one game with everything at stake. The big fellas have to get it done one more time. Pouncey isn't expected to practice until next week -- if then -- but has vowed to play against the Packers despite what appeared to be a serious injury. Legursky, meanwhile, will prepare as if he's going to be the center of attention. Should he run on the field at Cowboy Stadium with Roethlisberger and the other starters, it would add to his nice story of perseverance. "A long, hard ride," Legursky called it. An undrafted free agent out of Marshall and a practice-squad player in '08. A little-used reserve in '09. And now, perhaps, a Super Bowl starter after the '10 season.

You had better believe Legursky will pay extra attention in the Steelers' meeting room and on the practice field, as well as when the linemen gather at left guard Chris Kemoeatu's house Thursday night and work a little overtime at their regular weekly film study session.

Just in case.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11026/11 ... z1C7doYoWv (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11026/1120582-87.stm#ixzz1C7doYoWv)

fordfixer
01-26-2011, 03:25 AM
Vets keeping younger Steelers focused
January, 25, 2011
http://espn.go.com/blog/nflnation/post/ ... rs-focused (http://espn.go.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/36465/page/espntexas/vets-keeping-younger-steelers-focused)

By James Walker
PITTSBURGH -- Steelers 13-year veteran Hines Ward had a stern message for his younger teammates leading up to the AFC Championship Game.

Upon entering the locker room, there was a hand-written note by Ward that bluntly read, "Don't play with my money."

Each Steeler can earn an additional $142,000 for winning the Super Bowl, but Ward's memo was more about principle than actual dollars. Ward wanted to make sure the younger players in Pittsburgh's locker room understood a chance to win a championship doesn't happen often. Preparation and focus are key, and those are things inexperienced players can lose sight of while having success.

Ward's words clearly resonated, as Pittsburgh used a team-wide effort to beat the New York Jets 24-19 to advance to Super Bowl XLV.

"We all have to put our hands in the pile to be held accountable -- young and veteran guys," Ward said. "So you will hear a lot of veterans tell the young guys 'Don't play with my money.' But I think our young guys have risen to the occasion and made plays."

Thanks to Pittsburgh's strong leadership, led by Ward, linebacker James Farrior, safety Troy Polamalu and others, the Steelers' inexperienced players are performing like veterans.

Pittsburgh is getting key contributions during this Super Bowl run from rookie receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, first-round pick Maurkice Pouncey and second-year players Mike Wallace and Ziggy Hood.

You also can add third-year tailback Rashard Mendenhall to the list. He had a season-ending shoulder injury early in 2008 and is contributing in his first career playoffs. Mendenhall punished the Jets' defense with 121 yards rushing and a touchdown on 27 carries.

Most players in Pittsburgh's locker room have at least one Super Bowl ring, from the 2008 season. Those who have been with the Steelers for the past six seasons have two.

But there are a select few who haven't won anything with Pittsburgh (14-4), and most of those players are from the team's past two draft classes. The Steelers have a culture this time of year where veterans remind and jab at the younger players about not owning any championship jewelry.

This is also the veterans' subtle way of keeping younger Steelers motivated. Based on their playoff run, it's working.

"We're really hungry," Wallace said. "I'm pretty sure the other guys will bring their rings out before we go to Dallas. So we're extremely jealous -- but jealous in a good way, not in a bad way. We just want us some [rings]."

"They kind of throw it out that they experienced it [a Super Bowl] and we haven't," Sanders said.

This is Pittsburgh's eighth trip to the Super Bowl, and the Steelers are an astounding 6-1 in the previous seven title games. Pittsburgh (six) leads the Dallas Cowboys (five) for the most Super Bowl titles and has a chance to extend the lead Feb. 6 at Cowboys Stadium.

But it's very important for the Steelers to continue to get key contributions from their younger players against the Packers (13-6). The two-week break and enormous hype leading up to the Super Bowl can be just as much a mental test for teams as it is physical.

Ward, who is 2-0 in Super Bowls, has been through the process before and will remain in the ear of younger Steelers who haven't gone through this unique experience.

"It's their first time," Ward said. "I am pretty sure that the guys will have lots of anxiety, can't sleep, putting too much effort into it. We just have to slow the tempo down and treat it like any other practice."

drprwnap
01-26-2011, 09:23 AM
On the Steelers: Wallace likes way youth has served
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11026/1120585-66.stm

Wallace has managed to be happy, even though many receivers would pout over what has happened to him in his first two postseason games. He earned the right this season to join those wide receiver divas who do little but complain over the way they are used, the way they are not used, the treatment they get from quarterbacks and cornerbacks and their salary. Many of them are forever demonstratively signaling first down when they catch a 6-yard pass or pulling out imaginary flags and looking at an official when they drop another pass in tight coverage.

Not Wallace.

Not only was there no whimper from Wallace, he was happy to provide the distraction so others could benefit.

"I mean, it's going to be like that, it's the playoffs," Wallace said. "I don't have a problem with it. I think it really opens up things for other guys. I'm still taking guys out of plays and getting up top, still creating for other guys. They're making plays, and I'm happy."



Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11026/11 ... z1C7ckKPAs (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11026/1120585-66.stm#ixzz1C7ckKPAs)

This says VOLUMES about this kid. I just hope and pray that as his success continues, his attitude remains the same. :Beer

Oviedo
01-26-2011, 12:03 PM
The Coordinator has done a great job integrating young players and getting them contributing...on the OFFENSE!!!! Wish we could do the same on DEFENSE especially in our defensive secondary :stirpot

TallyStiller
01-26-2011, 06:37 PM
A number of pundits have commented on how good Green Bay's offense has been in domes... I think Wallace is going to have an unbelieveable game in this SB because his speed won't be hindered by the Heinz Field slow track. I really hope Green Bay puts Charles Woodson on him so he can smoke his old, overrated a$$ repeatedly.