Steelers Notebook: Being cut stroke of good fortune for former Lion
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Sean McHugh does not have to send anyone on the Detroit Lions a note of thanks, mostly because those who released him Aug. 31 have since been fired.
Still, he did not know it was the beginning of his good fortune. Instead of going 0-16 with the Lions, McHugh is going to the AFC championship game with the Steelers.
"You go from the lowest lows to the highest high in only a few short months," said McHugh. "It's pretty incredible to look back on it and how things could have turned out differently.
"You're sitting there upset when the Lions release you and the next thing you know it's the middle of January and you have a chance to go to the Super Bowl."
McHugh, who started 12 games at tight end for the Lions in 2007, has become the starting fullback with the Steelers. That's the position he played at Penn State and where the Lions moved him after the 2006 season.
"I didn't understand, but I did the best I could," McHugh said. "I had a banged up ankle. I think they were hoping they would get me back -- release me and I'd still be around and they could pick me back up."
Instead, the Steelers signed him three days later and he has replaced Carey Davis as the fullback, which has become an occasional job in the offense.
"You'd never draw it up that way, but I'm certainly not complaining," McHugh said. "This has been a dream for me."
Quote of the day
Hines Ward, on his team's five winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, two of them against Baltimore: "We want to start off a little faster and not let it come down to the fourth quarter."
Ben Roethlisberger, on what it's like to play the AFC championship game at home:
"I just hope it's not as bad as the first one I had here."
Roethlisberger's first pass Jan. 23, 2005, against the New England Patriots was intercepted, setting up a field goal. He went on to throw two more, one returned 87 yards for a touchdown as the Patriots won going away, 41-27, after a 24-3 halftime lead.
"We just have to make sure we know we have to take care of the ball," Roethlisberger said. "That has been the key to everyone's success or failure in the postseason so far. For me I just need to make sure I take care of it and let our offense and defense take care of the rest."
Taking out the trash
The silence emanating from the Steelers' locker room this week is deafening. Not a word of trash talk as they prepare for their hated rivals. Oh, for the days of Joey Porter and Lee Flowers.
"We're a humble team," Ward said. "We are humble, selfless.
"Joey's not on this team anymore. You're not going to get any crazy talk out of us. No Lee Flowers, No Joey Porter. We respect them. They have a great ballclub. That's not our style. Talk is cheap to us. You can talk all week but you still have to go out there and play."
Isn't that holding?
Many Steelers believe too many holding calls on James Harrison have been overlooked this season, more than the usual amount officials ignore these days.
"We haven't had a lot of those calls but it's getting down here to crunch time, maybe we'll be fortunate enough to get a call when it really matters," defensive end Brett Keisel said. "We're not going to worry about it, we'll still do what we do and we've been getting good pressure even without the holding calls."
Baltimore backup linebacker Antwan Barnes (shoulder) is out. Ravens who did not practice yesterday were defensive tackle Justin Bannan (foot), receiver Mark Clayton (thigh), linebacker Jarret Johnson (calf), receiver Derrick Mason (knee), running back Le'Ron McClain (ankle), cornerback Smari Rolle (thigh) and linebacker Terrell Suggs (shoulder). Tight end Todd Heap (back), linebacker Ray Lewis (shoulder), running back Lorenzo Neal (shoulder) and safety Ed Reed (knee) were limited in practice.
Two Steelers did not practice because of injuries, center Justin Hartwig (knee) and safety Troy Polamalu (calf).
First Published January 15, 2009 12:00 am