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Old 12-18-2006, 04:25 AM   #1
lamberts-lost-tooth
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Default Nothing could be finer than Parker's mood

Nothing could be finer than Parker's mood after his scintillating performance
Monday, December 18, 2006
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

CHARLOTTE. N.C. -- Willie Parker has had bigger days on the football field in the state of North Carolina. But it had been a while since he rushed for this many yards in his home state. And, safe to say, with this amount of satisfaction.

There were smiles and appreciable measures of contentment scattered all through the locker room yesterday after the Steelers won their third game in a row and fifth in the past six starts with a 37-3 victory against the Carolina Panthers. But there wasn't a player who loved what transpired at Bank of America Stadium more than Parker, a native son who had not rushed for this many yards in the Tar Heel state since he was a senior at Clinton High School.

"The game was real big," Parker said.

"I had to just keep my composure coming into this game. A lot of my teammates kept me well-grounded. I had never done anything in the state of North Carolina before, so you know how much that meant to me, coming back here playing."

To be accurate, Parker has done some big things in the state of North Carolina. He just didn't get to do them once he went to the University of North Carolina, where he was under-used and under-appreciated for three years.

Yesterday, though, he took out all his Tar Heel frustration on the Panthers, rushing for 132 yards on 23 carries and scoring on a 41-yard run in the third quarter. It was the most yards Parker had gained on North Carolina soil since he gained 221 yards on 14 carries and scored two touchdowns Oct. 17, 1998, when Clinton beat East Duplin High School.

Parker had only one 100-yard rushing game in a quiet three-year career at North Carolina, and that was when he gained 131 yards against Auburn in the 2001 Peach Bowl.

"For him to come back to North Carolina, where it didn't go too well for him when he was here, to come back now and have a dominating performance like this was a big game for him," said offensive left tackle Marvel Smith. "When he broke that long run, that was like redemption for him for everything he had been through."

Indeed, Parker was never given the chance to do much of anything at North Carolina. He carried only 43 times for 181 yards in nine games as a senior -- numbers not that far removed from what he did in one afternoon against the Panthers -- and had 817 yards rushing in his career.

Now, just three years later, he is on his way to one of the best rushing seasons in Steelers history. His performance against the Panthers was his sixth 100-yard game this season, though his first on the road, and pushed his season total to 1,331 yards. With two games remaining, he has a good chance to finish with the third-best season in franchise history, eclipsing the 1,431 yards by Jerome Bettis in 1996.

Parker would need two games like he had against the Panthers and Cleveland Browns -- 355 yards on 55 carries -- just to approach the club-record of 1,690 yards by Barry Foster in 1982.

"The days didn't go real well for Willie in college," said Hines Ward, who had two 21-yard catches against the Panthers. "He really wasn't given an opportunity. Willie is a great story. A lot of people didn't give him a chance and to come back home and to get a victory ... I couldn't be more proud of Willie than I am."

"Willie is a special back," coach Bill Cowher said. "I think he's one of best backs in the game today, and there are some good ones out there."

Parker, though, is closing in on another team record. His 41-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was his 11th rushing touchdown of the season and 14th overall. The franchise record for touchdowns in a season is 15, set by Louis Lipps in 1985.

It was also a thing of beauty.

The play is the team's signature running play -- "Boss," which stands for back on the strong side -- and was executed almost exactly the way it appears in the Steelers' playbook.

Parker cut through a hole on the left side created when tight end Heath Miller blocked the defensive end and guard Alan Faneca pulled and sealed strongside linebacker Thomas Davis. All that was left to do was outrace safety Mike Minter to the end zone.

"I just waited, and they kind of hit the holes," Parker said of his lineman. "I just had to be real patient and hit it up at the last minute."

Then, he added, "It's kind of like being in a fight. You never remember what happened till you see it on tape."

Nonetheless, Parker is having a season to remember. He already is the first back in franchise history to have two 200-yard games in a season. Yesterday, with runs of 21 and 41 yards, he ran the number of 20-yard-plus runs to 11, including six longer than 31 yards. And only San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson (29) and Kansas City's Larry Johnson (15) have scored more touchdowns in the AFC.

"I knew it would be a feast-or-famine game because they got a tough defense," Parker said. "But the offensive line and tight ends kept pounding and kept pounding. A lot of my teammates come up to me and they always tell me, 'You're going to break one,' and that's something I start to believe in. I don't know I'm going to break one, but it happens."

It even happened in North Carolina.
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Old 12-18-2006, 10:37 AM   #2
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Default Re: Nothing could be finer than Parker's mood

"He's still not big enough"

"I'm still not sold on him"

"He doesn't hit the holes"

"He doesn't leap from building to building"



I #$%& you no lie, after the game Sunday I was watching the Nightly Sports Call and a caller called in and stated that Willie "doesn't hit the right holes", he "doesn't have any vision" and he's not "solid on his feet". What running back are these people watching? Better yet, what are these people smoking?
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Old 12-18-2006, 10:58 AM   #3
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Default Re: Nothing could be finer than Parker's mood

Quote:
Originally Posted by 83-Steelers-43 View Post
"He's still not big enough"

"I'm still not sold on him"

"He doesn't hit the holes"

"He doesn't leap from building to building"



I #$%& you no lie, after the game Sunday I was watching the Nightly Sports Call and a caller called in and stated that Willie "doesn't hit the right holes", he "doesn't have any vision" and he's not "solid on his feet".
You got to be kidding me. Some still doubt Willie Parker. That caller needs to start paying attention and actually watch games. I was sold on Willie Parker after he ran for 161 against the Titans in the 2005 season opener. But this year Willie has even exceeded my expectations. I thought he would have about 7-8 TD's this year and not 14. Plus Parker has two games left and has a chance to break Louis Lipps club record of 15 TD's in a single season.
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Old 12-18-2006, 01:27 PM   #4
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Default Re: Nothing could be finer than Parker's mood

Quote:
Originally Posted by 83-Steelers-43 View Post
"He's still not big enough"

"I'm still not sold on him"

"He doesn't hit the holes"

"He doesn't leap from building to building"



I #$%& you no lie, after the game Sunday I was watching the Nightly Sports Call and a caller called in and stated that Willie "doesn't hit the right holes", he "doesn't have any vision" and he's not "solid on his feet". What running back are these people watching? Better yet, what are these people smoking?
I'll take a bag of whatever it is they're smoking. They're nuts !!!!!
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Old 12-18-2006, 03:37 PM   #5
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Default Re: Nothing could be finer than Parker's mood

willies post game quotes:

http://news.steelers.com/article/72797/

Quote:
WILLIE PARKER



RE: The game

The game was really big. I had to keep my composure coming into this game. My teammates kept me well grounded. I've never done that in a stadium in North Carolina before so you know how much that meant to me.



RE: The run game

I knew it was going to be a feast or famine game. That have a tough defense, but the offensive line and the tight ends just stuck in there and kept pounding. My teammates come up to me before the game and they always tell me, 'You're going to break one today.' It's just something that I start believing and I start believing in them knowing that they believe in me. It happened.



RE: In front of family and friends

It was great coming back to North Carolina, where I was born and raised. I have around 60 people here.



RE: 1,600 yards

It's not about me. It's about this team. 1,600 yards would be great, but I'm going to take all of the credit for my success. I've got to give a lot of credit to my coaches. I have to give all of the credit to the offensive line and the man up above. I have the easy job, I'm running behind them. The offensive line and the fullbacks have to deal with the linebackers blitzing. I have to give them a lot of credit. I've got the easy job.



RE: Number of fans in the stadium

Steeler fans are everywhere. We have some great fans. They follow us wherever we go. I'm used to them following us.



RE: Cowher said he is one of the best running backs in football

When I heard that Coach Cowher said that about me, my confidence has grown because a man believed in me in a high position like that.



RE: College career

I wouldn't take it back for anything in the world. If I would have had a great college career, I probably wouldn't be where I am today. It motivates me and gives me that pull to keep trying to be the best athlete I can possibly be. Hines (Ward) told me this week that he loved me because I came from the bottom and he sees me running every morning and that motivates him. Those are words of encouragement to me.



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Old 12-18-2006, 04:12 PM   #6
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Default Re: Nothing could be finer than Parker's mood

Man I love Willie and seeing him run
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Old 12-18-2006, 04:20 PM   #7
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Default Re: Nothing could be finer than Parker's mood

It has to be sweet for him to go back to the state where he went to college at and have another explosive game.
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Old 12-18-2006, 04:35 PM   #8
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Default Re: Nothing could be finer than Parker's mood

Are they nuts????

I was thinking they must be greasing that boy up with something because he was sliding right through that D line yesterday.
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"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."
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