Ed Bouchette on the Steelers: Baltimore's Bart Scott can whine and threaten all he wants, but Hines Ward is still champ of downfield hit.
Steelers Hines Ward (vs. Ravens 11/05/07)
Jack Lambert, file photo, 1986.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger scrambles as he tries to avoid a sack in the second quarter. (vs. Ravens, 11/05/07)
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What is it with the big, tough, Baltimore defensive players? They continue to whine whenever a wide receiver throws a block at them.
The latest is linebacker Bart Scott, who said in the Baltimore Sun this past week that he threatened to "kill" Hines Ward Monday night after the Steelers receiver blocked him.
"I threatened him," Scott said. "If I see him again, I'm going to threaten him again."
It must have to do with wearing the purple and black because even Rod Woodson, when he played for the Ravens, complained about Ward's blocks.
I suppose even when you play on one of the NFL's better defenses, you don't like it when a wide receiver blocks you. And when those blocks are big enough -- as Ward's was on Scott -- that they're shown all over ESPN, the big, bad linebacker's pride gets hurt.
Isn't this the same Bart Scott who exhilarated in the hit he put on Ben Roethlisberger last season when he had a free shot? That was OK, fly in unblocked and smack into a standing target who cannot see you? But get bowled over by a wide receiver, and it's not so much fun, eh, Bart?
"I just think he took some shots that he didn't have to, and I'm not even talking about my shot. I'm talking about the Ed Reed stuff.''
Oh, that's right, Ward also had the audacity to throw a block on the All-Pro safety. Gee, what's next? He might block one of their defensive linemen?
"With mine, I think I was pulling up,'' Scott whined. "I was letting up because I thought [Willie Parker] was going to run out of bounds. I should've just went for the cheap shot and hit him out of bounds. Then I wouldn't have had to worry about getting blindsided. That's fine, though. He's out there in safe land as a receiver, but I'll get an opportunity one day."
Safe land as a receiver? Ward has probably been hit harder more times in his career than Bart Scott as a linebacker and he has had the concussions to prove it. Pound for pound, though, I'll take Ward on my tough-guy team over the Ray Lewis-wannabe Scott any day.
Humble Lambert ignores Steelers because he can
Speaking of tough guys, it's Jack Lambert's right to boycott all kinds of Steelers reunions, events and 75th season anniversary get-togethers. He's not cheating the fans because he does not owe them anything.
Lambert was paid to do a job in the 1970s and early 1980s and he did it well. The Steelers compensated him for it. If he wants to be done with them, that's his prerogative.
Not all athletes enjoy the stage, especially 20 and 30 years later. Some just want to be left alone and go about their lives. Some, believe it or not, don't enjoy get-togethers with their old teammates just as many people don't attend their high school reunions.
Dan Rooney would have loved to have seen Lambert turn out for Monday's game. Other than Lambert and Joey Porter, who plays in Miami now, every other living member of the 33-man all-time team was there. Terry Bradshaw flew in from California. Rod Woodson, Greg Lloyd and Gary Anderson all turned out even though their days with the Steelers ended bitterly. Woodson even spoke at the gala event Sunday night at the convention center about how proud he was to have played for the Steelers.
Lambert once said he felt that way too, when he gave his Hall of Fame speech. He may still feel that way, he just made it obvious last weekend that he wants nothing more to do with them. Of course, that then can go both ways.
Harrison makes fans
forget about Porter
Those Steelers who expressed their shock and sadness when Joey Porter was released in March long ago stopped complaining. And the obvious reason is the play of linebacker James Harrison, who introduced himself to the rest of the National Football League Monday night in dramatic fashion.
Porter's release really was a no-brainer. While he played well enough for a number of years to make the all-time Steelers team, and he helped drive them to Super Bowl XL, his play had diminished in 2006 as his knee surgeries increased.
Porter was due a $5 million salary and the coaching staff knew that had they kept him, Harrison probably would have beaten him out of his starting job.
Porter has one sack, no interceptions and no forced fumbles for the 0-8 Dolphins. Harrison leads the Steelers with 6 1/2 sacks, leads them with 41 solo tackles, leads them with four forced fumbles, leads them with two fumble recoveries and is tied for the special teams lead with seven tackles.
Yet, while Porter received a $12 million signing bonus and another $8 million guaranteed with the Dolphins this year, Harrison will earn a $1.1 million salary with the Steelers. Harrison signed a contract extension last year that paid him a $1.375 million signing bonus.
You get what you pay for? Not always.
Offensive line must be upgraded ... soon
Lost in all the words used to describe how well Ben Roethlisberger played last week, and how he may be the best at avoiding sacks, is the fact he has to avoid them so often.
The Steelers will sign their quarterback to the richest contract in franchise history next year. It's about time they pay attention to protecting their investment.
Roethlisberger is scrambling too often away from pressure this season. He's been sacked 19 times; imagine what that number would be if he weren't the best at escaping a pass rush. He was sacked 46 times last season.
The Steelers have not drafted an offensive linemen in the first two rounds in the past five drafts. They have drafted just two in the first three rounds and neither of them start, tackles Trai Essex and Max Starks.
They probably will take another run at guard Alan Faneca after the season, although their chances of signing him appear to be slim. They gave it one last college try just before the season opened when Kevin Colbert, the director of football operations, met with Faneca one-on-one. It worked in 2005 when Dan Rooney met with Hines Ward, but not this time.
First Published November 11, 2007 12:00 am