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Old 01-13-2009, 09:39 AM   #1
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Default Woodley reasserts his dominant form

Woodley reasserts his dominant form
Buzz up!By Scott Brown, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, January 13, 2009

LaMarr Woodley won't be surprised to find a letter from the NFL in his locker this week.

The Steelers' outside linebacker opened himself up to the possibility of a fine by slamming Philip Rivers to the turf while sacking the San Diego quarterback in Sunday's AFC divisional playoff game.

"I thought it was a great hit," Woodley said. "Hopefully, they don't do anything about it."

The Chargers couldn't do anything with Woodley, which is one reason the Steelers beat San Diego, 35-24, to advance to the AFC Championship Game against the archrival Baltimore Ravens.

Woodley led the Steelers with two sacks and three quarterback hurries and also made five tackles, including three for losses.

His dominance revived the kind of talk at which Woodley had bristled leading up to the Chargers game: whether starting for an entire season had caught up with the second-year man and whether Woodley had benefited as much as any player from the first-round bye the Steelers received in the playoffs.

"I tease him about that," coach Mike Tomlin said when asked if Woodley had hit a proverbial wall, "but really he has not. The thing that we need from him is consistent pressure. I think he provides that. It doesn't always manifest itself into sacks."

It did for much of the season when opposing quarterbacks found themselves caught in the middle of a personal competition between Woodley and fellow outside linebacker James Harrison.

The two set a Steelers record for most sacks in a season by a duo (27 1/2). Woodley, however, could not maintain the blistering pace set by Harrison as the latter finished with 16, breaking a team record that had stood since 1984.

Harrison could relate to what Woodley, who did not record a sack in the Steelers' final four games, went through in the final month of the season.

Harrison, after all, didn't have a sack in the Steelers' final five regular-season games last season, his first as a starter.

"Once you're in that first year as a starter, you hit that wall a little bit," Harrison said, "but we had a little time off, he got rejuvenated and came in and played like he had."

Woodley refused to concede that the extra time the Steelers had off helped him "That still sounds like I hit a wall," he said and the 6-foot-2, 265-pounder added that he never got frustrated when his sack total remained stuck on 11.5.

Perhaps the reason for that is plays such as the one he made in the Steelers' 20-13 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 7.

Deshea Townsend returned an interception 25 yards for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown, but the pressure Woodley applied to Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo forced an ill-advised throw that led to the turnover and score.

Steelers coach Dick LeBeau said quarterback hurries are a better barometer than sacks when gauging the effectiveness of pass rushers.

"Sacks are kind of like interceptions," LeBeau said. "You may have three or four in one game, you may go a couple of games without any but more importantly you should have constant pressure."

Tomlin said that has never been an issue with Woodley, who was credited with 20 quarterback hurries during the regular season.

What bodes well for the Woodley as they prepare for an AFC Championship showdown against the Ravens is that he appears to thrive while playing on big stages.

The former Michigan standout has four sacks in two postseason games.

"He has played at a high level," Tomlin said. "He is a young guy who is going to continue to get better."

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Old 01-13-2009, 11:01 AM   #2
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Default Re: Woodley reasserts his dominant form

The funny thing is that Woodley never dropped in level of play, but because he steamrolled over Jacob Hester and Brandon Manumaleuna to record 2 sacks....the talking heads somehow think he broke thru the "rookie wall".

Woodley has been playing great all season and just got to the QB on sunday because the Chargers were stupid to block him with a RB. If we send Carey Davis to block Terrell Suggs, the same thing happens.

I hope he doesnt get fined. Its becoming a pansy league.
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