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Old 12-03-2007, 07:53 AM   #1
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Default Steelers Notebook: Turf stands up to rain this time

Steelers Notebook: Turf stands up to rain this time
Monday, December 03, 2007
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The tarp was removed from the Heinz Field playing surface about three hours before last night's game and it looked like a different field than the Monday night swamp.

The sod that was installed one week ago was rolled, aerated and dried out. Several big patches were replaced with new sod, then the whole thing was covered more tightly than it was the previous week.

The result was a field that looked more like a normal grass playing surface despite the daylong rain. It stopped raining for several hours but resumed about 7 p.m. with a heavy downpour that let up a little by the 8:15 p.m. kickoff

Officials walked the field shortly after 5 p.m. when the final tarps were removed. They included Dan Rooney, NFL game operations director Tim Davey, stadium executive director Jim Sacco, stadium operations coordinator Brian Opacic and football operations director Kevin Colbert.

As they walked and stomped on the field, water did not seep out of it. Last week, water seeped through seams in the five tarps used to cover the surface, making for a marshy mess.

This time, the grounds crew covered the seams with what looked like large strips of Saran Wrap, and then placed additional tarps on top.

Dan Rooney praised the work of Opacic and a grounds crew headed by Chris Ecton.

"They did a super job," Rooney said. "I watched them Saturday; they worked on the field all day and all night long."

The aeration process was done by hand with a pipe because the aeration machines did not go deep enough.

"It was bone dry before this rain," Rooney said in the hour leading up to kickoff. "But they said it will be able to take the rain."

Inactives
Halfback Najeh Davenport, not listed on the injury report all season, did not dress for last night's game because of an unspecified foot injury.

After the game, coach Mike Tomlin explained that Davenport experienced "discomfort" in his foot the past 24 hours. Asked when he might have hurt it and where, Tomlin said he did not know.

Rookie halfback Gary Russell dressed for his first game because of the injury to Davenport.

Also scratched for the Steelers were three starters -- wide receiver Santonio Holmes, left tackle Marvel Smith and strong safety Troy Polamalu.

Nate Washington started in place of Holmes, Tyrone Carter for Polamalu and Max Starks for Smith.

The Bengals also had a few lineup changes, one because of an injury to right tackle Willie Anderson, who missed his sixth consecutive game. Stacy Andrew started there. They also switched cornerbacks, starting Leon Hall in place of Deltha O'Neal.

Other inactives for the Steelers were center Marvin Philip, center Darnell Stapleton, linebacker Arnold Harrison and No. 3 quarterback Brian St. Pierre.

The Cincinnati inactives were Anderson, wide receiver Marcus Maxwell, cornerback David Jones, linebacker Jim Maxwell, center Dan Santucci, tight end Daniel Coats, defensive end Frostee Rucker and No. 3 quarterback Jeff Rowe.

Record setting

Two touchdown passes from Ben Roethlisberger to Hines Ward last night rattled a few club records.

Ward now has 64 career scoring receptions, giving him the Steelers record, one better than John Stallworth. For Roethlisberger, it was his 25th touchdown pass this season, a career high and third most in a season by a Steelers quarterback.

Back to the '90s

The Steelers honored their decade of the 1990s in their ongoing salute to their 75 seasons. The honorary co-captains last night from that decade were Kevin Greene, Dwayne Woodruff and Levon Kirkland.

Oh, say ...

Yes, Pittsburgh, they did sing the national anthem before last night's game. The Povertyneck Hillbillies, who feature Roethlisberger in one of their videos, sang the Star Spangled Banner.

Last Monday night, the singing of the national anthem was postponed along with the game when lightning struck in the area. However, NFL and ESPN officials decided there was no time for the anthem to be sung and it was canceled.

Welcome back


Tom Donahoe made a rare appearance in the Heinz Field press box last night. Donahoe worked for the Steelers for about 15 years before he was fired after the 2000 season.

He was their director of football operations, and his relationship with coach Bill Cowher deteriorated to the point the Rooneys felt one or both had to go and they fired Donahoe.

Donahoe landed on his feet as president and general manager of the Buffalo Bills in 2002, a job he held until he was fired in '05.

He now works on a part-time basis for the St. Louis Rams, New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.

Replay that again


When Tomlin successfully challenged a Willie Parker fumble in the third quarter, it was his first victory with the red flag in five tries this season.

Parker fumbled early in the quarter and cornerback Jonathan Joseph scooped it up and ran 24 yards for a Cincinnati touchdown. However, replays showed Parker hit the ground before he fumbled and Tomlin's challenge was upheld.
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