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mesaSteeler
12-18-2008, 01:53 PM
Finnegan-Ward the battle within the battle
Finnegan-Ward the battle within the battle
Terry McCormick, tmccormick@nashvillecitypaper.com
Posted: Thursday, December 18, 2008 12:01 am

When Cortland Finnegan and Hines Ward battle, it will be a no holds barred confrontation.

Call it the game within the game.

The Tennessee Titans host the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday at LP Field with home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs hanging in the balance.

But within that context, a skirmish on the fringe of the proceedings could be well worth keeping an eye on the inevitable one between Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan and Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward.

Ward plays much bigger and more physical than the 6-0, 205 he is listed as. Ward already has the reputation for being one of the NFLs most physical receivers, and perhaps the best in the league at blocking downfield and being the instigator of contact versus opposing defenders.

Add that to Finnegan, named to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday perhaps in part because of his own growing rep as a physical and chippy player, and it should make for some interesting clashes in Sundays game.

With Hines, youve definitely got to keep your head on a swivel. Hes going to come after you, Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck said. Hes physical when he has the ball, and hes physical without the ball. Hes the type of football player you would want on your team. Hes gonna bring it, talk the talk and walk the walk and try and take people out. He plays the game the way its supposed to be played.

The same type of things have been said of Finnegan, who at 5-10, 188-pounds, racked up a pair of personal foul penalties in Sundays 13-12 loss to the Houston Texans one a helmet-to-helmet hit on Houston quarterback Matt Schaub and the other for spearing against tight end Owen Daniels.

Earlier this season, Finnegan drew a pair of personal foul penalties on another drive for altercations and jawing with former Titan Derrick Mason, now of the Baltimore Ravens.

But those things sound like small potatoes compared to Ward, who broke the jaw of Cincinnati linebacker Keith Rivers with a block in a game earlier this season.

Will the trash talk and physical play be at a premium between the two?

I dont know. Well see on Sunday. I would assume its going to be all you can eat on words and definitely on play, Finnegan said. I guess its going to be a fun time. Hes definitely a great player I look up to. So its going to be fun for the both of us.

Ward and Finnegan have never faced each other before and wont be matched up against each other every single play, but have admired each others style and talents from afar.

Hes a great player, theres no question, Ward said. He brings a lot of attitude towards the game and hes a Pro Bowl player, which is well deserved. Its just going to be another matchup, another challenge for us receivers as we step out on the field.

Said Finnegan, who plans to introduce himself and talk to Ward before the game and the potential battle starts, Weve got to bring our big boy pads this week. Theyre a really good football team. Hines Ward, for myself, thats something I really look forward to. Hes a great receiver.

Finnegan said he wont change his style, but plans to play aggressively within the whistle. Earlier in the year at Baltimore, Bulluck was seen shoving Finnegan after one of the penalties, trying to make sure Finnegan didnt let Mason get the better of him. For his part, Finnegan said he felt he had maintained control of his emotions in the game.

I think that Cort has a good sense of how to keep himself in control, because if you thought Derrick Mason was a handful, Hines Ward will definitely give you everything that you want, Bulluck said. I think Cortland is aware of that and hell be prepared for that matchup on Sunday. As feisty or whatever you guys think Cortland is, Hines is times 10.

But Finnegan, of course, isnt likely to be intimidated by Ward or anything else.

I think I was in control last time [against Baltimore]. Thats just the way I play. You learn to live with that. Well see how it goes, Finnegan said.

Titans vs. Steelers

Sunday, noon

LP Field

DACEB
12-18-2008, 01:58 PM
Finnegan is definetly a guy we need to watch out for, that guys a playmaker. But we're going to run the ball all day over that backup D-line right?

Burghfan58
12-18-2008, 04:03 PM
Sounds like alot of mutual respect between Ward and Finnegan. I wonder how long that will last when the whistle blows. I imagine Hines and Chris Hope will exchange pleasantries as well. I can't wait. Tee it up. :tt03:

steelpride12
12-18-2008, 04:25 PM
Good respect between these 2 and Finnegan having his best season will make it a good battle, but Wards clutch plays will keep the offense on the field.

Hapa
12-18-2008, 05:13 PM
Hah Hines is such a cool dude

NJarhead
12-18-2008, 06:10 PM
Finnegan is definetly a guy we need to watch out for, that guys a playmaker. But we're going to run the ball all day over that backup D-line right?

The Texans were able to frustrate him and take him out of his game last week. Look for us to do the same.

Steelman16
12-19-2008, 01:32 AM
For all the Finnegan's talk, I think Hines will get into his head pretty good. Even if they're not lined up opposite eachother the entire game, Ward just doesn't blow over the top like Finnegan does.

Blitzburgh_Fever
12-19-2008, 03:26 AM
I think Finnegan's biggest asset is that when teams get desperate he makes them play. I'm thinking we're too disciplined (stubborn?) to change from our game plan a lot on the fly to allow him to shine. It's funny that what some of us have been bitching about all year is going to serve us well this game, but that's football.

I can see Hines giving Finnegan a couple of "how do ya do"s early on in the game and getting his temper flaring. That's when Finnegan starts making mistakes. Hopefully the Steelers exploit it.

The only thing that worries me is if we're down in the fourth and go to a no-huddle. Ben has thrown some passes that should've been picked off, and those are throws Finnegan doesn't let get away. But then again, it's hard for me to see us down in the fourth with 5 mins to go and not assume we're going to win.

Should be a great game.

markymarc
12-19-2008, 08:15 PM
For all the Finnegan's talk, I think Hines will get into his head pretty good. Even if they're not lined up opposite eachother the entire game, Ward just doesn't blow over the top like Finnegan does.

Absolutely. Finnegan can get chippy all he wants in the end Ward will get the best of him. Finnegan will get a first hand show on how to play football if and when Ward lines up across from him.