View Full Version : On the Steelers: 2005 champions started trend

01-20-2011, 06:36 AM
On the Steelers: 2005 champions started trend
Thursday, January 20, 2011
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The New York Jets are trying to hack out a path to the Super Bowl through what historically had been an impenetrable jungle -- until the Steelers showed the way five years ago.

For the first 39 Super Bowls, no team had ever come away with a Vince Lombardi Trophy by first winning three playoff games on the road. Then, the Steelers squeaked into the 2005 playoffs as the sixth seed in the AFC, won at Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Denver and completed the grand slam with a victory against Seattle in Super Bowl XL in Detroit.

Two years later, the New York Giants walked the same kind of path as the NFC's fifth seed to claim their third Lombardi Trophy. And now two sixth seeds have reached championship games, one each in the AFC and NFC: The New York Jets and Green Bay Packers.

What had not been done in the first 39 years of the Super Bowl could be accomplished for the third time in the past six seasons and, for the first time, two sixth seeds could square off Feb. 6 in Dallas.

Steelers tight end Heath Miller was a rookie when the Steelers pulled it off in 2005.

"I think it's tough, but it could be energizing," Miller said of the incessant Lombardi march on the road. "With each time we played on the road, we got more and more confidence. Each time you go on the road and win, I think it brings your team together. I felt the underdog role was kind of working for us that year."

Miller said while he is not sure what the Jets are experiencing, he could understand if they have discovered the Steelers' spirit of '05.

"I'm not in their locker room, but it could be. To beat Indianapolis on the road, a good team, and then to go into New England and win, they have to be feeling pretty good about themselves."

The Jets are trying to follow another parallel of the '05 Steelers. Like Ben Roethlisberger in '05, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is in his second season after reaching the AFC championship game as a rookie and losing. Roethlisberger's rookie season ended with a loss to the Patriots in the 2004 AFC championship at Heinz Field.

"He had a lot of what I did, too," Roethlisberger said, mentioning the talent around him. "It's nice when they don't talk about you because they talk about your defense and how good they are and the players.

"So it's kind of a nice thing you can fly under the radar a little bit. With him being in New York, it's a little bit harder to do that, but every week you watch him he's getting better. He takes the criticism that everyone seems to be giving him for some reason and just kind of seems to brush it off and move on and play better every week."

Offensive tackle Max Starks recalls the Steelers' 2005 playoff run as a difficult assignment.

"It's really tough to go three straight road games in the playoffs in hostile environment. It is a very tough feat for anybody. It was really tough mentally and physically. Going on the road every single week, it was a tough task for us but we made it happen.

"It's one of those things we believed in ourselves ... we all made a dedication to ourselves and each other that whatever it takes were going to make it happen."

Smith won't face Jets

Defensive end Aaron Smith did nothing more in practice Tuesday than he has been doing, and he will not play Sunday.

Although coach Mike Tomlin announced Tuesday that Smith would return to practice, "I just did some drills and get-off stuff, things like that," Smith said.

The Steelers listed Smith as having gone through "limited participation" in practice Wednesday, just as they listed him all last week.

He said he did no team stuff and did little more Wednesday than he has been doing but added that "I feel good, it's just a process."

Smith has been out since his triceps were torn Oct. 24 in Miami. He had surgery the following week.

Tomlin has kept him on the roster with the hope he could play at some point either late in the season or in the postseason. If Smith has a chance to play, the Steelers would have to beat the Jets and make it to the Super Bowl.

Money talks

In what has become a tradition for nearly a decade, captains James Farrior and Hines Ward took to the team bulletin board to write down what winning and losing means in terms of fattening each player's wallet.

Under the headline, "Don't [Mess] With My Money" was the number $142,000 with the explanation "That's what we're playing for." There was another number -- $59,000 "before taxes."

Other figures included $23,000, the value of a Super Bowl ring.

Farrior explained that the Steelers have been doing that for years just in case all the other stuff isn't enough motivation for some players.

"That's a saying that's been around here for a long time," Farrior said. "We've been through a few of these games. If you can't get motivated for it, then money's always a factor to motivate you."

Casey Hampton said the first player he noticed mentioning it was former cornerback Chad Scott.

"He was the money guy back then," Hampton said. "Chad, he didn't like it when you messed with his money. He was probably the first guy I heard say it or put it up on the board."

Who has ever messed with Hampton's money?

"Probably casinos and stuff like that."

More injury updates

Cornerback Bryant McFadden has left the past two games early with an abdominal strain. He did not practice Wednesday but expressed optimism he can play Sunday -- and stay in the game longer than the two series he lasted Saturday against Baltimore.

"It's not like we play tomorrow, we still have a few days before Sunday," McFadden said. "I feel there's a strong chance to get out there and do what I can do."

Other Steelers who did not practice were safety Will Allen (knee), wide receiver Arnaz Battle (ill) and safety Troy Polamalu (Achilles).

In the 2005 playoffs, the Steelers became the first team to win three playoff games on the road to reach the Super Bowl. A rundown of the road they traveled and the opposing quarterback:

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11020/1119241-66.stm#ixzz1BZuwYCd9