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lamberts-lost-tooth
12-08-2006, 05:28 AM
The first NFL start for Steelers' rookie Anthony Smith was a big hit -- except for maybe one play
Friday, December 08, 2006

By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Steelers' defense doesn't pass out stickers for almost-shutouts. They do not take any consolation from a near-miss like they had last night against the Cleveland Browns. Or five days earlier against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

What could have been another shutdown performance instead morphed into another solid defensive performance for the defense, which lost its second shutout in a row late in the fourth quarter. And it happened when the Browns scored on a 45-yard catch-and-run by wide receiver Braylon Edwards -- the only blemish on a night when the Steelers held Cleveland to 18 yards rushing and 11 first downs.

It also was the only blemish on the night for rookie safety Anthony Smith, who missed a tackle in the open field that allowed Edwards to score the Browns' touchdown in a 27-7 victory at Heinz Field.

"Anthony Smith was really good," Coach Bill Cowher said.

"He showed he's capable of making big plays," said safety Tyrone Carter.

Smith, the team's second pick in the draft, celebrated his first NFL start with a couple big hits and an even bigger interception. That's why nobody was going to blame him for what happened when Edwards scored the first offensive touchdown against the Steelers in the past 10 quarters with 5:20 remaining.

Smith was starting for Ryan Clark, whose groin was injured in Sunday's 20-3 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And, with the exception of one play, he was near-flawless, playing with the instinctiveness and tenacity that have endeared him to the coaching staff.

"At free safety, you got to be able to make that tackle," Carter said. "But you can't let one play take away from the way he played. You can't let one play ruin that."

And Smith, the first of two third-round selections in the draft, wasn't going to let it spoil his night.

"Nah," Smith said. "I got my feet wet last week. I felt real comfortable out there. It was a good feeling to start out there. I had to seize the moment. Hopefully, this will be the first of many starts."

It will be if he continues to play as he did against the Browns.

He set a physical tone in the first quarter when he drilled Edwards with a big hit on an incomplete pass, then wiped out running back Reuben Droughns on a screen pass near the 50. In the second quarter, he slammed into tight end Darnell Dinkins so hard that the former Pitt player never had a chance to catch a bobbled pass.

It is difficult to quantify the significance of Smith's big hits. But, on a night when the wind-chill matched the Browns' total points, Smith thought the Cleveland receivers were starting to peak over their shoulder.

Especially wide receiver Dennis Northcutt, who had three of the Browns' seven drops.

"That was the reason they were dropping the balls," Smith said. "Those hits hurt when it's cold out. They started looking for us after that."

"He had some big hits," said Carter, who started the second game in a row at strong safety for injured Troy Polamalu. "He's going to be a great player for us. I love his attitude. I love his demeanor."

And they really loved his interception and 20-yard return near the end of the third quarter, which stopped a Browns' drive that had reached the Steelers' 34.

It was the only time the Steelers intercepted a pass by Browns quarterback Derek Anderson, who also was making his first NFL start. Anderson was not sacked. He completed 21 of 37 passes for 276 yards -- seven to wide receiver Joe Jurevicius for 111 yards.

Of Smith's play, Cowher said: "He made some big hits. And he made a big interception."

Just one flaw: A big missed tackle.

If not for the gaffe, Smith and the defense would have posted their first shutout of the season. Of course, the Steelers were saying the same thing Sunday when the Buccaneers kicked a meaningless field goal as time expired merely to avoid being shut out.

Including the first meeting Nov. 19 in Cleveland , the Steelers haven't allowed an offensive touchdown in 13 of the past 16 quarters. The only defensive breakdown came in Baltimore when the Ravens scored touchdowns in the first and second quarters en route to a 27-0 victory. The Ravens did not score a touchdown in the second half.

"And you look at the game, both of those touchdowns came on a short field," Cowher said.

Understand, too, though, the Browns have been outscored, 57-7, in their past two AFC North games.

"We're playing together right now, getting 11 guys to the ball, getting stops on third down," Carter said.

Smith was a big part of that against the Browns. And he will be a big part of that in the future.

19ward86
12-08-2006, 08:45 AM
big hit......? more like big hits, he had big hits on edwards and josh cribbs like twice a peice. jacked up on monday will be full of replays from this game.

HometownGal
12-08-2006, 09:36 AM
This kid played above and beyond the call of duty and was very impressive. Me thinks Anthony Smith is going to become a well known name around the NFL in the coming years. Great job! :thumbsup:

coachspeak33
12-08-2006, 09:42 AM
couldnt agree more hometowngal, everytime this season i would see carter and logan on the field while smith hrotted away on the pine.... i wanted to put my foot through the tv..... he is a ballhawk!!!!!

Great Job Anthony

ChronoCross
12-08-2006, 10:10 AM
From pre season to now, every time the boy has had a chance to hit someone he has shown he can be a very big hitter in the NFL. He in my oppinion will replace ryan clark, even tho I am very impressed with the play of ryan clark since he was brought in and a good bring in at that might be beat out by smith as a starter in another year. A lot of people knock the secondary but to me its more not playing with heart and motivation to be one of the down falls, next season the secondary will be back on track and be one of the best we have ever had. And do not give up on this season as of yet. A few losses by key teams this weekend and a win next weekend, people will be, no no no, not the Steelers again, and like the anouncer said if by any chance we do make the playoffs, he said we would win the SB again.

coachspeak33
12-08-2006, 10:25 AM
agreed mcfadden, polamalu, smith will be solid.... and i still belilve in Ike.... so i think we will get better in the secondary from within.

RoethlisBURGHer
12-08-2006, 10:38 AM
This guy will be a defensive enforcer on this team.I think he's better than Ryan Clark and shoot...sit Clark the rest of the year and cut or trade him,Smith is a beast.

Justin Otstott
12-08-2006, 10:43 AM
I seen alot of big hits last night my God! I hope we hit like that when we play the Ravens again!

Stlrs4Life
12-08-2006, 11:20 AM
Smith was awesome, happy for him, he went to HS right accross the state line in Hubbard, Ohio.

Stillers43
12-08-2006, 12:02 PM
SMITH AND POLAMALU @ FS and SS

Looks nice for many years to come!

Hopefully Ike and McFadden can play just a little better and we'll have one the best secondarys next year.

Haiku_Dirtt
12-08-2006, 12:10 PM
This kid played above and beyond the call of duty and was very impressive. Me thinks Anthony Smith is going to become a well known name around the NFL in the coming years. Great job! :thumbsup:

Me thinks definately too. :thumbsup:

TXSTEELER
12-08-2006, 12:21 PM
He would have made Donny Shell proud last night!

Preacher
12-08-2006, 04:10 PM
This guy will be a defensive enforcer on this team.I think he's better than Ryan Clark and shoot...sit Clark the rest of the year and cut or trade him,Smith is a beast.


Remember, Clark may have LATE first day or early second day draft trade potential...

However, with how hard Smith hits, and the injury bug that every team has, I would rather keep Clark. He has played decent, played excellent for a backup... if that is what he is to become.

And with the Bengals going more and more to the pass, we need to keep more DB's that can actually play.

Preacher
12-08-2006, 04:13 PM
F A lot of people knock the secondary but to me its more not playing with heart and motivation to be one of the down falls, next season the secondary will be back on track and be one of the best we have ever had.


I am one of those who knock our secondary. However, the real problem is our CB's and the fact that the Zone blitz makes our CB's play too far off the wide outs.

We need to go outside our team and pick up a CB and drop townsend, IMO.

polamalufan43
12-08-2006, 04:16 PM
Anthony Smith is meant to be in the NFL. He'll be a great FS and we'll get many years out of him.

~Polamalufan43:tt02:

12+88=6
12-08-2006, 06:09 PM
is this the hit?





http://www.post-gazette.com/steelersphoto/photos_display.asp?ID=3938

polamalufan43
12-08-2006, 06:11 PM
It's one of many.

~Polamalufan43:tt02:

Preacher
12-08-2006, 06:13 PM
It's one of many.

~Polamalufan43:tt02:

LOL I was thinking the same thing