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Old 09-24-2009, 11:08 PM   #1
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Default Steelers' Harrison driven on defense

Steelers' Harrison driven on defense
By John Erardi
Cincinnati Enquirer

Pittsburgh’s James Harrison didn’t have a typical game last Sunday in Chicago, when the Steelers lost to the Bears 17-14.

Maybe Harrison, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, is tired.

After all, the 100-yard sprint the linebacker made in Super Bowl XLIII last February, juking and ducking and dodging en route to a touchdown on an interception return during Pittsburgh’s 27-23 victory over Arizona looked tiring, didn’t it?

It was the longest play in Super Bowl history.

After his long run, as the Akron native was prostrate in the end zone, one only could wonder, “How long will it take him to sleep this one off?”

The 6-foot, 242-pounder, who played his college ball for Kent State, had 16 sacks last year and was all-everything. But he didn’t have any sacks in the first two games this season, and he wasn’t an overwhelming force in the loss to the Bears that dropped the Steelers to 1-1 this season.

Still, Harrison was plenty feisty in his teleconference call with reporters this week.

He pretty much said he isn’t going to go easy on the Bengals Sunday, and that he doesn’t expect the Bengals to go easy on him.

He implied that Bengals offensive players should take a good hard shot at him if they get a chance when the teams face off on Sunday, because that’s what he’s going to do if he gets a shot at them.

Harrison also condoned teammate Hines Ward’s jaw-breaking hit on Keith Rivers from last season, and he said the head – not the knees – is the best place for a shot like that.

“If a lineman or a receiver was going to crack-back on me, I would want him to hit me in my head and shoulders area, and maybe knock me out for a play, maybe knock me out for a game,” Harrison said. “If he does that same thing and cracks back and hits you from the waist down in your knees, that is still a legal hit, but that could end your career.”

For Harrison, the effect of the NFL’s new blind-side blocking rule is to make him – and other players – do something they would rather not do.

“It (the low hit mandated by the rule) keeps money in my pocket,” Harrison said. “I’m not trying to get fined. It’s a business, when it all comes down to it. It’s about making money, and I’m trying to make the most that I can. It sounds ... mean, but I’d rather play by the rules than get fined.”

The Bengals know what they’re up against with Harrison and a Steelers defense that typically allows 100-yard rushers about as often as their fans allow opposing fans to take off with a Terrible Towel.

Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said he admires Harrison.

“What makes him such a good player is that he’s so instinctive,” Whitworth said. “He’s not like your normal (pass) rusher who rushes the same way every time. He plays every snap differently (based) on what he sees and reads. He’s just a hard guy to block … You have to be prepared against a guy like this. It’s not, ‘It’s just another week.’ ”

The Bengals offensive line would love to help running back Cedric Benson have a 100-yard rushing game on Sunday.

“If we can get Cedric over 100 yards, we feel like we can win the game,” Whitworth said. “It’s definitely a goal of ours.”

But the offensive line will have to handle Harrison, who is the kind of guy you have to respect.

He joined the Steelers as a rookie free agent in 2002, was released by the team and then was signed to the practice squad. In 2003, he made the final roster but was released two days later and again was signed to the practice squad. He was released a third time that October and didn’t play for the rest of the season.

In 2004, Harrison led the Steelers with 25 special-teams tackles and started four games. By 2007, he had started all 17 of Pittsburgh’s games and was a second-team All-Pro.

“He’s a guy who’s made a lot from what he started with,” Bengals center Kyle Cook said. “He’s a guy who somebody like me looks up to. I was in the same kind of spot he was – got cut, was on the practice squad, finally worked my way up.”

Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said Harrison’s success is fueled by his drive to be the best.

“It’s not surprising (he’s so good) when you’re around him on a day-to-day basis,” Tomlin said. “He’s a very talented and gifted guy, but what he’s willing to do is more impressive and more important. His work ethic is second to none … It’s just as impressive or more impressive than his actual play.”

Harrison said he does whatever Dick LeBeau, the Steelers’ defensive coordinator, tells him to do.

“I believe so much in his knowledge and the defense that he runs,” Harrison said. “There are times here and there where (I) may look at something and say, ‘Maybe I’m going to try to gamble (on this play) and see what happens.’ Sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear gets you.”

The Bengals know who one of the bears will be Sunday He wears No. 92.
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Old 09-25-2009, 02:10 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' Harrison driven on defense

I hope he gets 2 or 3 sacks and makes Benson look average again.
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Old 09-25-2009, 09:57 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers' Harrison driven on defense

Originally Posted by Hines0wnz View Post
I hope he gets 2 or 3 sacks and makes Benson look average again.
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Old 09-25-2009, 08:09 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers' Harrison driven on defense

Benson won't even get close to 100 yards. I can't wait for Harrison to bring the heat on Sunday.
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