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WT: Steelers Are All Talk


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Unless your first name is Bruce and you're the NFL's all-time sack leader — or Emmitt and you're the leading rusher in league history — it's hard for a Smith to get noticed in pro football. I mean, how many us can distinguish between Antonio Smith (Cardinals, DE) and Corey Smith (Lions, DE), between Kelvin Smith (Dolphins, LB) and Le Kevin Smith (Patriots, DT)? There are just too many darn Smiths to keep straight.

Which might be why the Steelers' Anthony Smith, a virtually invisible second-year strong safety, flapped his gums last week about the unbeaten/untied/unloved (outside New England, anyway) Patriots, his team's next opponent. Heck, there are three Smiths — Aaron and Marvel being the others — on the Pittsburgh roster alone. How is a Smith supposed to separate himself ... from them and the rest of Smith Nation?

Granted, the Pats were looking as vulnerable as they had all year, barely scraping by the Eagles (31-28) and Ravens (27-24) the previous two weeks, but who is this Smith whippersnapper to be guaranteeing a victory against a club closing in on a perfect season? Just shut up and play, kid.

Besides, didn't he know how risky this DB chatter was before big games? Why, the Chiefs' Freddie Williamson tried it before the first Super Bowl, threatened to pulverize Vince Lombardi's Packers with his feared "Hammer" tackle (actually a helmet-high clothesline), and wound up being carted off the field.

Smith wasn't knocked unconscious yesterday, but he might have been struck dumb by the final score: Patriots 34, Steelers 13. In the closing minutes, the giddy Gillette Stadium crowd chanted something that at first sounded like "M-V-P" (referring presumably to Tom Brady) but was in fact "gua-ran-tee" (most definitely directed at You Know Who). Mr. Smith may never open his mouth again — except to say, "I'll have to look at the tapes."

For Anthony Smith, this wasn't a coming-out party (as he may have hoped), more like a dressing-down party. The Patriots, riled by his lack of respect, clearly targeted him, burning him on a 63-yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss (Smith got suckered by the run fake) and later on a 56-yard scoring pass to Jabar Gaffney on a trick play. In between, the young safety missed a tackle on Gaffney that resulted in a 32-yard gain — and a New England field goal just before the half.

Smith, of course, begged to differ. "The way our defense is run and the way we rotate, they really couldn't target me," he said. And then, undaunted, he issued yet another guarantee: "We will see them again."

Memo to Pittsburgh's playoff opponents: You might want to post that on your bulletin board.

Brady, brilliant again with 399 yards passing and four touchdown throws, set the tone by getting in Smith's face after the Patriots' first score, a 4-yard flip to Moss. And what, pray tell, did Tom say?

"I don't want to repeat it," he said, "especially if my mother reads it. I don't think she'd like the words I used."

There's little doubt, though, that the Pats found inspiration in Smith's jabberings, particularly his claim that Moss and running mate Wes Welker are "not like Cincinnati['s receivers]. I don't think it gets much better than Cincinnati's receivers," he said. "We've already seen the best."

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Yeah he defnitely had no business speaking up. He was only a second year player. I know that he wouldn't say that he thought that they were going to lose, but guarantee a victory in Foxboro might have been too tall of an order to fill. I think that actually the Steelers might see them in the playoffs and actually it might be different the next time. The only reason I believe this is that the Pats didn't show me that they could really run the ball consistently enough. In January you have be able to run the football, if not, then they will be going home early, which of course I would love to see.

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