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COOL Under Fire
Paul Zimmerman
September 01, 2003
When a game is on the line, these pros are the best in the business when time is running out
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September 01, 2003

Cool Under Fire

When a game is on the line, these pros are the best in the business when time is running out

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Early in the game I'd take the Giants' Michael Strahan, because he's probably the closest to being technically perfect. But in the late going, when fatigue kicks in, Taylor's motor won't quit. He might appear to be blocked, he might even get knocked off his feet, but if the quarterback pulls the ball down and looks for that one last read, Taylor's going to be on him.

BEST ONE-ON-ONE OUTSIDE PASS RUSHER: SIMEON RICE, BUCS DEFENSIVE END

He lines up very wide and takes a long, circuitous route to the outside, which he can get away with because of his speed. Then, when he has his blocker set up just right, he flashes to the inside and gets the quick sack.

TACKLE TO HANDLE THE PREMIER OUTSIDE RUSHER WITH NO HELP: DERRICK DEESE, 49ERS

He's a tough guy, a player who'll do anything to avoid getting beaten. Deese, at 6'3", 289 pounds, is one of the smallest tackles in the league, but late in the game I'll take a smaller player over a 350-pound monster whose legs will be rubbery.

PASS RUSHER TO GO FOR THE STRIP: LEONARD LITTLE, RAMS DEFENSIVE END

He's not as effective against the double team, but he forced nine fumbles last season and came close a lot of other times. He almost changed the ending to Super Bowl XXXVI, when he reached Tom Brady during the Patriots' winning field goal drive and smacked the ball. But Brady held on to it and completed the short pass to J.R. Redmond that kept the drive alive.

INSIDE RUSHER TO GET TO THE QUARTERBACK: ROD COLEMAN, RAIDERS DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Last season big Sam Adams started the game, but in crunch time Coleman was on the field applying the serious pressure inside. Exceptionally quick off the ball, and undersized for a defensive tackle at 6'2", 285 pounds, he still wears number 57 from his days as a linebacker. His 11 sacks were tops for all interior linemen last season, which is remarkable when you consider that he started only two games.

BLITZER TO COMPLEMENT THE RUSH OF THE FRONT FOUR: BRIAN DAWKINS, EAGLES FREE SAFETY

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