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Old 10-21-2008, 06:08 AM   #1
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Default Linebackers inflate Steelers' sack total

Linebackers inflate Steelers' sack total
By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

When LaMarr Woodley sacks a quarterback, it is not uncommon for him to seek out James Harrison and hold his hands a couple of inches apart. After Harrison has recorded a sack, he will turn to find Woodley and hold his hands considerably farther apart.

"Widening the gap," Woodley said with a knowing smile when asked about the Harrison gesture.

The Steelers' outside linebackers are staging a competition that is anything but friendly for quarterbacks. Opposing signal-callers find themselves caught in the middle of a "Can you top this?" game.

The Steelers already have 25 sacks and are on pace to drop the quarterback 67 times this season. That number is considerably higher than the team-record 55 sacks the Steelers recorded in 1994 and 2001. It is also almost double the number of sacks (36) the Steelers had last season.

That the Steelers are sacking quarterbacks at an unprecedented rate starts with Harrison and Woodley trying to outdo each other.

"The biggest competition is in your backyard, and that's how they approach it," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "They drive each other, and that's awesome."

They probably drive opposing offensive coordinators batty. Harrison and Woodley rush from opposite sides of the field, and double-teaming one is tantamount to unleashing the other, if their production through six games is any indication.

Harrison is tied for first in the AFC with 8.5 sacks, and Woodley is right behind with 7.5. Both are on track to break the Steelers' single-season sack record of 15, set by Mike Merriweather in 1984.

"I don't think I've really seen anyone block them yet," Steelers linebacker and defensive captain James Farrior said.

How dominant have the bookend pass rushers been? Woodley sacked quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick twice in the Steelers' 38-10 win over the Bengals Sunday and did nothing to close the gap on Harrison.

Harrison spent much of the afternoon in Fitzpatrick's face,. Bengals left tackle Levi Jones, a former first-round draft pick, proved to be no match for Harrison, who made the NFL as an undrafted free agent.

Jones may have fared better trying to wrestle a bear than in holding off Harrison, which would make him a member of a club that is growing by the week. Powerful and relentless, Harrison has the kind of drive that reflects the circuitous route the 6-foot, 242-pounder took to one of the glamour positions on the Steelers' defense.

If Harrison, who was cut three times before sticking with the Steelers, is a handful, Woodley is no bargain on the left side of the defense.

Woodley recorded six sacks last season despite limited action as a rookie, and the 6-2, 265-pounder is proving that he can get to the quarterback with the same alarming efficiency as an every-down player.

"I'm feeding off Woodley, Woodley's feeding off me," said Harrison, who took over at right outside linebacker for Joey Porter last season and made the Pro Bowl. "It's a little bit of a competition there to see who can get the most sacks."

A welcome by-product for the Steelers: Harrison and Woodley are creating opportunities for other players.

Lawrence Timmons joined Harrison and Woodley in notching a pair of sacks in Cincinnati, and Farrior had one. The two inside linebackers were able to come up the middle to sack Fitzpatrick, in part, because the Bengals were so conscious of the havoc Harrison and Woodley were creating on the flanks.

"There's times I sit there and just shake my head," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said of the Steelers' pass rush.

Indeed, the sign Woodley and Harrison make to one another after a sack also could serve as a warning to opposing quarterbacks. The one who didn't get to the quarterback is coming that much harder on the next play and the ones that follow.

"The more (sacks) James gets, the more I try to stay close to him," Woodley said. "Who knows? At the end of the season it may be a lot."

It already is.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_594285.html
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Old 10-21-2008, 08:11 AM   #2
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Default Re: Linebackers inflate Steelers' sack total

I love it it, poor quarterbacks are trapped in their little game

one gets a sack, the other one wants one twice as hard. whatever it takes, just keep bringng the heat on qbs

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"There's times I sit there and just shake my head," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said of the Steelers' pass rush.
and this is a guy who knows about getting sacked. just be thankful they are on your team ben, lol
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Old 10-21-2008, 08:16 AM   #3
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Default Re: Linebackers inflate Steelers' sack total

It sound like they love playing together.
This is going to be some year.
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Old 10-21-2008, 08:49 AM   #4
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Default Re: Linebackers inflate Steelers' sack total

This may be the difference between our defense last year and this year. Statistically the defenses are similar to this point but these guys are REALLY getting to the QB's this year. Offenses have to specifically plan for this...... I couldn't be much more excited.
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Old 10-21-2008, 09:29 AM   #5
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Default Re: Linebackers inflate Steelers' sack total

The Steelers have an outstanding LB corps who are very exciting to watch (not so exciting from the opposing QB's angle on his hiney) and give 150% each and every game. It's great to see them feeding off each other and each of them striving to be the best they can be. Papa Lebeau must be jumping for joy!

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Old 10-21-2008, 10:00 AM   #6
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Default Re: Linebackers inflate Steelers' sack total

i bet theres a weekly phone call between joey poster and some of the guys. he wants to play too, and is getting in on this little competition. as happy as i am for our team, im glad to see porter doing well too. way to represent steelers football in miami!
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Old 10-21-2008, 10:24 AM   #7
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Default Re: Linebackers inflate Steelers' sack total

Great read. What could be more exciting than this?
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Old 10-21-2008, 12:26 PM   #8
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Default Re: Linebackers inflate Steelers' sack total

WOO HOO !!!!!!!!! GO LINEBACKER U !!!!!!!! Imagine if all 4 of them got two sacks a game. We shall see what happens when we hit the meat of the schedule this year. I hope to see Matt Cassell hit the deck at least 9 or 10 times. The cool thing is we don't have to send safety blitzes in and we still get to the QB consistently. These guys are scary good.
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Old 10-21-2008, 12:57 PM   #9
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Default Re: Linebackers inflate Steelers' sack total

Great to see them working together, and lovin what there doing.
Eli best wear extra padding!
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Old 10-21-2008, 01:05 PM   #10
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Default Re: Linebackers inflate Steelers' sack total

Quote:
Originally Posted by HometownGal View Post
The Steelers have an outstanding LB corps who are very exciting to watch (not so exciting from the opposing QB's angle on his hiney) and give 150% each and every game. It's great to see them feeding off each other and each of them striving to be the best they can be. Papa Lebeau must be jumping for joy!

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Don't hit him too hard boys, the commish is just waiting to hand out fines for hitting too hard. Especially when it comes to players with the last name of Manning.
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