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Old 11-17-2008, 03:53 AM   #1
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Default Bengals' talk just makes Ward smile

Bengals' talk just makes Ward smile
Monday, November 17, 2008
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


All things considered, the San Diego Chargers linebackers and secondary people had a pretty good day at Heinz Field yesterday. The Steelers won by the historic score of 11-10 to put a serious hurt on the Chargers' playoff hopes, and Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward had a huge game with 11 catches for 124 yards. But at least the Chargers defensive players went home in one piece.

Things can always be worse.

"I tried to hit a few of 'em today," Ward was saying before heading into the chilly Pittsburgh night. "They were telling me, 'No way. You're not getting me. You ain't breaking my jaw.' I got a big kick out of that. They're worried about a 200-pound wide receiver. Can you believe that? An old guy like me?"

Yeah, I can believe it.

Let me be the first of many to report this week that Ward has absolutely no fear of facing the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday night at Heinz Field. Some of the Bengals have hinted at retribution for Ward's block of rookie linebacker Keith Rivers Oct. 19, a legal hit that left Rivers with a broken jaw. Rivers, speaking through his teeth to the Cincinnati media because his jaw was wired shut soon after he had surgery, said, "You reap what you sow. What goes around, comes around."

Bring it on, Ward all but said last night.

"I'm not worried about it," he said. "I'm just going to play football and do what I do."

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? That Ward can take care of himself just fine?

Is there a tougher player on the Steelers? Aside, of course, from linebacker James Harrison, who looks as if he's constructed from stone?

The Steelers wouldn't be 7-3 without Ward. It's no secret their offense isn't functioning at a high level. It couldn't score a touchdown last night. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger isn't functioning at his best despite completing 31 of 41 passes against the Chargers for 308 yards. It's fair to think his aching right shoulder is preventing him from throwing the ball deep the way he has done so often. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said the Chargers, like the Indianapolis Colts the week before, took away the deep pass by playing cover-2 defense, but I'm still blaming it on Big Ben's sore pitching arm. Defenses never scared him in the past, did they? Most of his passes yesterday seemed to be short and over the middle.

There can't be a better NFL receiver to have under those circumstances than Ward.

It's not hard picking the man's most important catch against the Chargers. His 7-yard grab between linebacker Stephen Cooper and safety Paul Oliver on third-and-6 from the Chargers' 41 with three minutes-and-change left kept the Steelers trucking toward the winning field goal.

"It's great to step up and be there for my guys," Ward said. "I knew I was going to get hit. Ben threw the ball in the only place I could catch it. He got up and I got up and we looked at each other and it was like he was thinking, 'There's my guy. He's going to make a play for me.' That's just great trust between the quarterback and a receiver."

Echoed Big Ben, "I know if I can get it close to Hines, he is going to make a play."

Ward also had catches for 13, 15 and 7 yards on the deciding drive. He figured it was the least he could do after being called for his third holding/illegal block penalty of the game during that possession. The Steelers were penalized 13 times for 115 yards and the Chargers twice for 5 yards, prompting a fair amount of outrage in the winning locker room.

"My mother always said, 'If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all,'" Ward said. "I'm not commenting about the officiating."

When pressed, though, about the final holding call, Ward said, "[The official] said it was No. 86. I don't know who I was holding."

It didn't matter in the end. Ward's 100-yard receiving day was his second in a row -- he had nine catches for 116 yards against the Colts -- and the 18th of his career. It was his ninth double-digit catch day, including playoffs.

"Not bad for an old guy," Ward said.

Now, the Bengals come to town. Rivers won't be playing; Ward's hit finished him for the season, much to Rivers' regret. "If I didn't go on IR, I'd do everything in my power [to play Thursday night] -- shoot some cortisone in my face and go," he told the Cincinnati media. But Rivers' pals will be at Heinz Field. You might hear a little something about their plans for Ward later this week.

"I don't care what they say," Ward said.

Then, he smiled.

"Trust me, I'll be just as fired up to play them as they will be to play me."

What?

You're surprised?


http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08322/928588-87.stm
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Old 11-17-2008, 04:27 AM   #2
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Default Re: Bengals' talk just makes Ward smile

I just love Hines Ward he is always a smiling and I guarantee you that he is not a bit worried when we play the Bungholes he will be looking for another big hit .
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Old 11-17-2008, 06:11 AM   #3
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Default Re: Bengals' talk just makes Ward smile

Did you see Hines' face on the last drive, after he was called for holding? He wasn't smiling anymore, he was deadly angry and determined to make his team win and shut every detractor's mouth, ref included. I enjoy when he is psychosmiling, but i loved his monstruous bodylanguage on this last drive. What a warrior. He looked like a man on mission.
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Old 11-17-2008, 07:08 AM   #4
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Default Re: Bengals' talk just makes Ward smile

Rivers cracks me up! He is talking trash even though his mouth is wired shut. He got creamed and still wants to whine about it.

I also like the fact that the Chargers were all saying not me. Hines intimidates alot of defenders IMO, and I hope he catches another Bengal napping on a play.
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