Big Ben, Steelers in mid-season form

PITTSBURGH – LaMarr Woodley felt offended. That’s never a good idea.

Before leaving Sunday’s game with a reported hamstring injury, the Steelers’ fifth-year outside linebacker made Tom Brady pay for the frustrations he must have been feeling.

“All week, didn’t seem anyone was giving us much chance (against New England),” Woodley noted at his locker. “Well, we want to be playing football in February, just like they do.”

Both of Woodley’s tackles Sunday resulted in sacks of the Pats’ boy wonder. I know, you’re thinking only two tackles for Woodley who’s recognized among the NFL’s elite linebackers?

As you might have noticed Tom Terrific spent a majority of Sunday’s game mugging for TV cameras on the sideline.

All the while, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense executed a game plan of near perfection.

“Any time our defense (is on the bench) any length of time is usually a good, good sign,” offered defensive end Brett Keisel. “Just the same, any time our defense is on the field any length of time, that’s not a good sign.”

Considering the Steelers (39:22) nearly doubled New England (20:38) in time of possession and total yardage (427-213), a six-point lead (23-17) in the final five minutes seemed far too tenuous.

“Too many field goals,” Roethlisberger related. “We’ve got to score more touchdowns (once we reach the red zone).”

There wasn’t much else to criticize, though, on a day when it appeared Big Ben had somehow managed to hijack New England’s play book.

Brady and company routinely carve up opposing defenses with uncanny precision. Just the opposite held true Sunday.

“That’s what we thought we could do…beat them with a short passing attack..a little dink and dunk,” Roethlisberger suggested. “All the credit goes to my guys up front and the receivers who made play after play.”

Making this one that much more sweeter was the fact Pittsburgh was operating without three mainstays – wideout Hines Ward and defensive stars James Farrior and James Harrison.

“That says something about our resiliency,” stressed safety Ryan Clark, the Black & Gold’s leader tackler Sunday.

“Is this a big win?” Clark continued. “Yes. Is it bigger than any of the rest? No way. It’s one game and nothing more. We’re not gonna get carried away with this one win. It was game No. 8 and we have eight still to go.”

Including this Sunday night’s return engagement with the dirty birds of Baltimore who came incredibly close to dropping a home field verdict to Arizona on Sunday.

If the Steelers were at peak efficiency vs. NE, imagine their mindset playing a Ravens’ club which handed them an embarrassing 35-7 loss on opening day of the regular season.

Roethlisberger and the offense coughed up a mind-numbing seven turnovers that day which effectively inflated the outcome.

“Of course we remember that game. That wasn’t the Steelers,” indicated Keisel. “I know our fans have been pointing (to the rematch). I sense we’re going to have a spirited week of practice.”

At midseason, Pittsburgh (6-2) is taking on the look as perhaps, the AFC’s frontrunner. A similar performance vs. Baltimore would solidify that notion.

Clark, meanwhile, envisions a potential January playoff date with the Brady Bunch.

“That’s (Patriots) an amazing team. There’s no doubt in my mind we’ll see them again. Hopefully, it’s right back here (Heinz Field).”


POSTGAME reports indicated Woodley would be re-evaluated today but could possibly miss Sunday’s game. Outside linebacker James Harrison, who has missed four weeks with an eye injury, may be able to return for the Ravens. Farrior, meanwhile, is expected to be sidelined until December….

FOLLOWING Sunday night’s battle with Baltimore, the Steelers travel to Cincinnati. The amazing Bengals are 5-2 following Sunday’s win at 2-5 Seattle. Three of the Bengals’ other wins have come against Cleveland (3-4), Jacksonville (2-6) and Indianapolis (0-8). Cincy does own a 23-20 home victory vs. 5-2 Buffalo…..

PRIOR to Sunday’s game, Ohio University’s marching band performed…Additionally, actress Kristen Dalton, starring with Tom Cruise in a movie (‘One Shot’) being filmed in Pittsburgh, led the Terrible Towel twirl along with actor Jessie Williams from the TV show ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’

Gibson may be reached at