View Full Version : Harris: Farrior finds redemption in Cincy

11-10-2010, 07:28 AM
Harris: Farrior finds redemption in Cincy
By John Harris
Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Steelers defensive captain James Farrior waited a year for a second chance like the one he received late Monday night.

Then again, Farrior will be the first to tell you that second chances can be overrated.

"Yeah, man, we got another chance," Farrior said following the Steelers' 27-21 win at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. "We thought we had it, but we let it slip away a little bit at the end. But we changed the outcome.

"Same defense. Same calls. We just played it better this time."

In Sept. 2009, the Bengals drove 71 yards in 16 plays, scoring the tying touchdown and the winning two-point conversion in the closing seconds of a 23-20 win at Cincinnati.

From that point forward, the local media and fan base determined that Farrior, who was 34 at the time, was beginning to display signs of slipping and slowing down in coverage.

Bengals running back Brian Leonard victimized Farrior for an 11-yard reception on fourth down to sustain that drive. He also caught the two-point conversion.

Farrior caught plenty of flak. One play had seemingly erased 13 years of exemplary NFL service. What have you done for us lately, Potsie?

It's easy to take Farrior for granted. All he does is line up and make plays. He doesn't bring attention to himself.

The ultimate warrior who has missed only four games because of injury since joining the Steelers in 2002, Farrior deserved better.

If Farrior had run out of gas, he wouldn't be starting. Simply put, no one on the roster has been able to beat him out.

That day is coming. Farrior said he won't overstay his welcome, that he will know when to say goodbye.

Until then, Farrior is determined to fight back. He threw himself into offseason workouts with speed and conditioning coach Tom Shaw in Florida. Shaw said it was the hardest Farrior worked in years.

Farrior would only say that he took criticism of his game extremely personal.

Playing the Bengals, again, in Cincinnati, was a godsend for Farrior and the Steelers. They needed to win to keep pace with New England, Baltimore and the New York Jets for supremacy in the AFC.

Farrior needed to wipe the slate clean.

To have the game end the way it did with the Bengals driving for the winning touchdown and Farrior right in the middle of the action is every player's dream.

Or nightmare.

Make no mistake, Farrior a year older and certainly wiser wasn't coming off the field on the Bengals' final drive. There was personal pride and a much-needed victory at stake.

Farrior played a rugged game, his best performance of the season. He led the Steelers with 10 tackles and sacked quarterback Carson Palmer for a 6-yard loss on a blitz when the wily veteran outsmarted the Bengals and wasn't blocked en route to the backfield.

"If they don't block me, I'm supposed to make the play," Farrior said. "I couldn't believe it. I showed (blitz) early. They called it out. I guess they called it wrong because nobody blocked me. We blitzed throughout this time. We were trying to disguise a lot of things."

Cincinnati found the matchup it wanted on the final drive when Palmer connected with running back Cedric Benson for 16 yards on third and 14.

Benson was Farrior's responsibility.

"I was mad about that one because that was the play I got beat on last year. I got beat on it again," Farrior said. "That was probably the only thing bad (about) that drive."

The ending, therefore, was pure bliss when cornerback Ike Taylor stripped the ball from Cincinnati's Jordan Shipley on fourth down at the same time linebacker James Harrison thudded into Shipley.

For Farrior, it meant redemption.

"Same type of game," Farrior said. "We knew they had some tendencies they were successful with last year. We practiced for that all week. We didn't stop them on fourth down last time and we lost. We stopped them this time.

"Game over."

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.

11-10-2010, 07:35 AM
Cook: Steelers' Farrior gets it right this time
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

On one side of the Steelers' locker room Monday night at Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium, there was wide receiver Hines Ward saying, "It was deja vu all over again." On the other side, it was linebacker Larry Foote saying, "This wasn't his first rodeo, you know?"

Forgive each man his use of a hackneyed sports cliche.

Like any of us could have described the end of the Steelers' 27-21 win against the Cincinnati Bengals and linebacker James Farrior's starring role in it any better.

This was moments after the Steelers survived the Bengals' fourth-quarter charge from a 27-7 deficit, securing the win, finally, when linebacker James Harrison and cornerback Ike Taylor broke up a pass for Bengals wide receiver Jordan Shipley at the Steelers' 2 with 34 seconds left.

"We've seen that horror flick before," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said afterward. Indeed. Last season when the Steelers played in Cincinnati, the Bengals chased them down after trailing, 20-9, in the fourth quarter to win, 23-20.

"It was deja vu all over again ... "

You have no idea, really.

In the game last season, Farrior was beaten on the Bengals' winning drive by running back Brian Leonard on an 11-yard pass play on fourth-and-10. This time on the Bengals' final drive, he was beaten by running back Cedric Benson for a 16-yard gain on third-and-14.

Well, Farrior wasn't actually beaten ...

"No, I was beaten," he said.

Really? It looked as if Farrior was with Benson when he stumbled. Farrior still got his hand on the pass from quarterback Carson Palmer, deflecting it, but not enough for Benson not to be able to make the catch.

"I still was beat," Farrior said. "He had a step on me. But if I had been able to keep my feet, maybe ... "

There was no time for Farrior to fret about the possibilities at that moment. The Bengals had new life and a first down at their 48. You might have been concerned about Farrior's ability to refocus after what happened last season. Foote wasn't.

All together now ...

"This wasn't his first rodeo ... "

Foote, Farrior's best friend, was with the Detroit Lions last season after spending seven years with the Steelers and didn't see Farrior get beat by Leonard. "But I saw it on TV and we talked about it," Foote said. "He took it personally. As our captain and the competitor that he is, he felt like he lost the game, which he didn't, but you'll never convince him of that. I just know that he couldn't wait to get back here to play 'em again."

Farrior played as if he had something to prove. He has been solid all season but often has been overlooked because of the collective brilliance of his fellow linebackers. Lawrence Timmons is the choice here as the Steelers' MVP at the season's halfway point. Harrison has made as much news off the field as he has on it with his seven sacks and his hard hits, legal or otherwise. LaMarr Woodley is conceding nothing in the sack race with Harrison, adding two against the Bengals to push his total to 5 1/2.

But nobody outshined Farrior Monday night.

"I thought it was his best game," Foote said.

At 35, in his 14th NFL season, making his 86th consecutive start for the Steelers counting postseason games and going back to the 2005 season, Farrior had 10 tackles, a sack and a quarterback hurry. It would have been a crying shame if that one pass to Benson had contributed to a Steelers' loss.

"He buckled down and got it done," Foote said of Farrior. "The whole defense did."

It wasn't easy, of course. But who said anything is easy in the NFL? The Steelers' defense allowed two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Harrison, for one, wasn't happy. "We need to put teams away and not let them back in the game," he said. "We're not doing that right now. It's a serious issue that we need to fix."

Farrior will be back in the defensive meeting room at the Steelers' South Side compound this morning, making sure the defense does just that. He didn't seem too concerned late Monday night, though. Maybe that's because the defense still ranks No. 2 in the NFL in yards allowed and No. 1 against the run and in points allowed. Or maybe it's just because he was so relieved that the pass to Benson didn't cost the team the game.

How's this for one more trite sports cliche?

Farrior exorcised a demon against the Bengals.

I admit, that's mine.

But it described just how Farrior felt when he saw Harrison and Taylor knock down Palmer's final fourth-down pass. He had been living a long time with the bad memories of that pass to Leonard last season. This night, he was feeling no pain as he pulled on his dress shirt over a left arm that had several gashes on the forearm and a bloody turf burn on the elbow. This night, he felt just joy.

"I saw that ball squirt out and it was like, 'This [thing] is over. Let's get out of here and go home,' " Farrior said.

The Steelers did just that. Presumably, Farrior led the way. That's what a captain does. That's what the team leader does.

He always leads the way.

Ron Cook: rcook@post-gazette.com. Ron Cook can be heard on the "Vinnie and Cook" show weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 93.7 The Fan.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10314/1102037-66.stm#ixzz14yNGTJdx

11-10-2010, 07:04 PM
James Farrior had a very strong game too. I was impressed with his performance against the Bengals. He had the play against Benson, but unfortunately he tipped the ball right to Cedric for that catch. I thought he had very good coverage on him too.

11-10-2010, 07:55 PM
Farrior is a warrior and still plays ok...But we are starting to find out that our recent love affair with signing older players is costing us.

11-10-2010, 08:01 PM
What is with this hatred for Farrior because he's 35? Lewis is a couple months older than him, he came in 2nd for NFL defensive player of the year when he was 30, he's a great linebacker. People think linebackers have to be fast but the 3-4 only requires 2 fast linebackers and then 2 linebackers to stuff the run, and Farrior and Woodley are those run stuffers and are the most sure tacklers on the team. Harrison is a lot faster than people give him credit for in coverage, and Timmons was drafted to take the role as a coverage linebacker.

11-10-2010, 08:36 PM
Farrior still has it, and hes a great leader. One of my favorite players on D.

11-11-2010, 08:22 PM
It was nice to see James Farrior laying some wood on a few plays as well against the Bengals. Plus James is only going to help Lawrence Timmons continue to progress into a superstar linebacker.

11-11-2010, 08:43 PM
What is with this hatred for Farrior because he's 35? Lewis is a couple months older than him, he came in 2nd for NFL defensive player of the year when he was 30, he's a great linebacker. People think linebackers have to be fast but the 3-4 only requires 2 fast linebackers and then 2 linebackers to stuff the run, and Farrior and Woodley are those run stuffers and are the most sure tacklers on the team. Harrison is a lot faster than people give him credit for in coverage, and Timmons was drafted to take the role as a coverage linebacker.

No Hate just watch the film...He is a two down Linebacker...We just have no heir apparent....

11-11-2010, 08:57 PM
No Hate just watch the film...He is a two down Linebacker...We just have no heir apparent....

:noidea: Its what you consider a 2 down player that bothers me. Any other team would use Smith as a 2 down, sometimes 1 down player, and only out there on running plays, but for the Steelers as long as the other teams offense is on the field he's on the field. Farrior is the same way, though you might not consider him a linebacker who can fly around, but what middle linebacker does that? Especially in a 2 middle linebacker system where 1 is ment to be the dominant middle of the field backer and the other has the sole purprose of running all around the field like Jack Ham and Derrick Brooks.

The 3-4 system its-self requires Farrior to survive right now. Lewis at this point in his career might be stronger than Farrior, but watching him play, he is much slower but he never misses a down, and that defense is dominant when he's on the field.
Finding someone who is a big smashmouth linebacker but is also very smart and good in coverage is hard to find at a young age in general. Especially with the Steelers needing more help on the offense and defensive line, you wont see them drafting a replacement for Farrior this year, so learn to like him.

11-11-2010, 11:43 PM
So what he's saying is he wiffed again on the final drive by the Bengals and James Harrison/Ike saved the day for him?

Sorry Potsie, great overall game on Monday but you're a little too old to be playing every down imho. Let Fox or Sylvester get some reps.