Motivated Pats (cont.)
Posted: Sunday December 9, 2007 10:31PM; Updated: Monday December 10, 2007 12:42AM
They'd make him eat some of their famed humble pie, in several large and humiliating servings.
"Well, everything happens for a reason,'' said Harrison, when asked about Smith's role in both long touchdown passes. "That's why in life you remain humble, continue to work hard and be thankful for everything God blessed you with.
"When I was a young player like that, I barely opened my mouth. You've got to just go out there and play football and not worry about the other crap that's going on.''
If there was any lapse in intensity in New England's past two games, those near-defeats against Philly and Baltimore, the Patriots re-discovered their fire against the Steelers. Thanks to Smith and his inability to back up his big words. Bill Belichick couldn't have asked for anything more than getting his ridiculously talented team to again go for the throat.
Steelers rookie head coach Mike Tomlin said he doubted Smith's comments "were a motivating factor'' in the Patriots' performance, but he was in the distinct minority in his own locker room. Many of Pittsburgh's veterans seemed to know that Smith had carelessly awoke a sleeping dog.
"It definitely did (motivate them),'' Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "I had a couple of their guys as I was coming on the field during the TV timeout who said, 'Why are your guys opening their mouths? We're so fired up out there.' We got some young guys. Lesson learned for the young guy.''
But a lesson that came at a costly price, at least in terms of Pittsburgh's own confidence level, as a playoff berth comes into sight. The Steelers left Gillette Stadium with considerably less swagger than they had entering Sunday.
"They made a couple big plays today, and I think the reason they did those big plays was because of what (Smith) said maybe,'' Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel said. "Trying to take a shot at him. Why not take a shot? The shot went their way.
"Absolutely, they were motivated. When someone says you guarantee no matter what they do, you're going to win, absolutely that affects the way the team looks at you. They came ready to go.''
The Patriots are ready to go all right. Pushed around in Baltimore Monday night, they were determined not to let the Steelers out-physical them on Sunday. They took the fight to Pittsburgh, and out-smash-mouthed a smash-mouth team.
"We played Patriots football, and this is what I'm used to playing here for the past five years,'' Harrison said. "Going out here and not taking any crap. The last two weeks really opened up your eyes. That wasn't Patriots football. We came in today and really re-focused.''
So it's 13 wins down for New England, with three more to go in the regular season; and then three more in the playoffs. At this point, I can almost guarantee this much: No one else in the NFL this year is going to make the mistake that Anthony Smith made against New England.
"There's all kind of young players in the league, so there's no telling what will come out next,'' Moss said. "But I really think by him being young and getting caught up in the game and all the hype, something was bound to slip out.
"I think the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers, because of their toughness and their mouths, they've got a lot in common. They did their talking throughout the week, and we did our talking on the field today.''
Getting the last word, and getting it their way, is what these Patriots have always been about.
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