The Steelers had the number one ranked passing defense during the regular season last year, but all year long players preached that it didn’t matter where they were ranked throughout the season.
What mattered to them was what happened in the post-season, how they performed then and how far the team went.
And last year, it wasn’t far enough for them, losing to the Denver Broncos in overtime in the AFC Wild Card round.
“One thing I’ve learned about this game going into my 10th year is you don’t necessarily have to be the best defense during the season or the best team during the season, you’ve just got to be good enough to get into the playoffs and then be the best team in the playoffs,” said safety Troy Polamalu. “We went 15-1 and lost in the AFC Championship game. We were the best team during that season. When the New England Patriots went 16-0 they were the best team.
“You’ve just got to peak during the playoffs and when it came down to crunch time we didn’t perform as a defense. You have to seize the opportunities that are given to you and you’ve got to be patient for them to come. We’ll see if we learn from that and how we prepared this offseason.”
Tags: Troy Polamalu
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Former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward is joining a new team for the upcoming football season, the NBC Sports team. Ward will be a part of the network’s Football Night in America Sunday night show as well as other NFL related roles.
“We think Hines is a perfect match for television because he brings with him a unique combination of charisma and football experience, which he demonstrated on our Super Bowl pre-game show from Indianapolis,” said Sam Flood, executive producer, NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network in a release that was issued to announce Ward’s hiring. “He’s an opinionated personality who can draw upon his 14 years of experience, having excelled at the highest levels of the game. Just don’t expect him to dance.”
Ward will also appear on NBC SportsTalk with Mike Florio and Sports Illustrated’s Peter King on NBC Sports Network.
“I am really excited,” said Ward via the release. “It’s not every day that you get the chance to work for a powerhouse like the NBC Sports Group. It is a big honor for me and I am looking forward to making the most of this great opportunity.”
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Safety Ryan Clark has seen teammates come and go, with others stepping in to pick up the slack on the field. Clark knows the same will be the case on the field this year after the team lost James Farrior, Aaron Smith and Will Gay this offseason.
“As far as football, it’s going to roll on,” said Clark. “This organization won six Super Bowls for a reason. They know how to get the right people in the right position and allow them to play football. As far as the leadership I think everyone is doing what they have been doing all along and the leadership process happens naturally.”
But it’s off the field where he will miss guys who were more than teammates, they were friends.
“It’s the off the field stuff and the behind the scenes things that you miss the most,” said Clark. “James Farrior was the guy with the remote every morning when we had a break. He is the guy that gave the speech after we had a prayer. Aaron always said the same thing when we broke the huddle. You miss those things. Will Gay danced in the circle before we started the game. It’s the little things like that that hit you every now and then.”
Tags: Aaron Smith, James Farrior, Ryan Clark, William Gay
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Just when it looked like Thursday’s OTA session had come to a complete end, players lined the sidelines on the far field to watch linebacker Lawrence Timmons and quarterback Troy Smith compete to see who could throw the football the furthest.
You would think Smith would be the favorite, but Timmons has the ability to throw the ball 75 yards. Just not on this day.
“I was the favorite, but I got beat,” said Timmons. “I threw it 68 yards. Troy threw about 69 yards.”
Timmons had the ball slip before the throw, joking that it was his teammates that caused him to lose the yearly competition the players have.
“I had somebody talking in my ear while I was trying to make the throw,” said Timmons. “There were a bunch of distractions that you didn’t see that were going on. The throws normally go farther, but I was being bothered by a few people. That happens.
“It’s all fun. It’s competition. But I did get cheated.”
Smith will take on the reigning champion, Byron Leftwich, at some point near the end of training camp.
Tags: Lawrence Timmons, Troy Smith
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Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger appeared on The Rich Eisen Podcast, which is available for download on NFL.com and iTunes and aired on NFL Network Thursday, May 10 at 1:30 PM ET.
The following is some of what Roethlisberger had to say.
On how he has changed since he was drafted:
“I was a very young man, and now I feel like a very old man even though I’m only 30 now. So much has changed. I was sitting in the locker room today after doing a couple of things there and I was sitting with Willie Colon, who I think is two years younger than me, and I looked around the locker room and told him this is getting crazy, I barely recognize half of these guys. I’m feeling old already and I’m only in my ninth year. It’s amazing how things change and how you grow up and you’re helping these younger guys out because they’re coming in with big eyes and trying to figure out how all of this stuff needs to slow down. I remember when I was there. I just try to help them out because it seems like just the other day I was there doing the exact same thing they are.”
On the Steelers offensive under new offensive coordinator Todd Haley:
“It’s different, it’s new. I’m sure I’ll pick up on it, but because it is so different – almost everything is completely different and new. Change isn’t always bad; it just takes a little while to get used to. That’s what I’m doing, trying to put the extra work in.”
On the reports that he was not happy with the change in offensive coordinators:
“The thing about it is, and I’ve only been a Pittsburgh Steeler for nine years and all I know are the stories, change doesn’t happen a lot in Pittsburgh. Look at how long Coach Noll, Coach Cowher [were in Pittsburgh] – they just don’t have a lot of changeover. So anytime you lose a player, you lose a coach – it would be uncomfortable to even lose an equipment guy, a training guy because in Pittsburgh it’s family. Everybody is family from top to bottom and that’s how the Rooneys treat you and that’s how we treat each other. To lose a family member like that, of course it’s going to hurt you and of course change is different. People made such a big deal about us being so upset and [having] hissy fits – nothing like that happened. You hate to see anybody that is your family leave, and so that was the tough part.”
On how much different the offense will be:
“I don’t know. I get a little confused at times because I know that so much has been made about us quote-unquote throwing the ball too much or going back to Steelers football and running the ball more. But in these meetings I’ve had with Coach Haley, he’s all about the no-huddle and using our wide receiver weapons and throwing the ball. I’m not sure what is going to happen yet.”
On Hines Ward’s retirement:
“It’s going to be weird not seeing [No.] 86 out there, and his smile, his competiveness, his fun nature and him making plays for you. It’s going to be that way, but it was the same thing when we didn’t have [No.] 36 out there, Jerome Bettis. You lose guys and guys retire and guys move on, and that’s the nature of this business, but there will never be another 86 and we’re going to miss him.”
The entire podcast can be downloaded by clicking on The Rich Eisen Podcast.
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