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mesaSteeler
01-29-2009, 06:32 AM
Willie Parker proponent of Big Bang theory
By Ron Borges | Thursday, January 29, 2009 | http://www.bostonherald.com | NFL Coverage

TAMPA - Willie Parker has two things going for him as he prepares to break free on Super Bowl Sunday: He isn’t limping any more and he knows he can play on The Big Stage.

“I definitely love the stage,” Parker said, mindful that the last time he was on it three years ago he set a Super Bowl record with a 75-yard touchdown run while piling up 225 rushing yards - a performance that changed his life.

“After you break a record, coming from where I came from as an undrafted free agent, it changes a lot of stuff,” the Steelers’ leading rusher said. “People started to notice me a little more. People want to be a part of me. They just wanted to be part of my life. It changed me a lot.”

So did 2008, a nightmare year after three straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons in which he averaged 1,337 yards behind Pittsburgh’s man-handling offensive line. Success had become as expected of him as sitting on the bench at North Carolina once had been, but this season he was inactive for five games with an aching knee and gimped his way through many others, gaining just 791 yards rushing after opening the season with a combined 243 yards in the first two games.

For the first time, he was not Fast Willie. He was Wobbly Willie, a guy whose speed deserted him until he suddenly got healthy and rushed for 116 yards against Cleveland in the season finale and 146 against San Diego to open the playoffs. Then came the Ravens, against whom he’d never gained much more than a foothold, and he was stopped cold in the AFC Championship Game, averaging 2.0 yards on 24 carries and rekindling doubts about his health.

Now he sits waiting for one last chance, three hours on Super Sunday, the game that changed his life and made clear he understood what his team is all about.

“We are the Pittsburgh Steelers, we run the ball,” Parker said. “That’s just what we do. We will get time of possession and it will be on our side.

“I’m definitely ready. We been on the run lately. Now it’s time for one last game to lay it all on the line.”

To lay it on the Cardinals, the Steelers would love to lay it on Parker because that would keep Arizona’s potent passing game on the sidelines. The best way to do it is to get Parker running again.

“He gets the offense grooving in their rhythm,” Steelers tackle Willie Colon said of Parker. “That’s what we try to do. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”

When it does, things happen. Big things.
Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/football/other_nfl/view.bg?articleid=1148579