All seems to be forgiven in the war of words that developed between Browns safety Earl Little and Steelers receiver Hines Ward after the teams met in November.
Little spoke harshly of Ward's actions after Ward knocked him unconscious on a hit. Little's primary complaint was that Ward stood over him in a taunting fashion for a few seconds.
"I understand the physical part of football," Little said the day after the game. "I hit a guy for them (the Steelers) coming over the middle last year. I knew what I did. He knew what I did. I didn't need to taunt him. For a guy to do whatever he did to me was uncalled for."
Ward admitted that he shouldn't have stood over Little, but he has no regrets with the crushing hit he put on Little. He said he went after Little because Little said he was going to knock off Ward's head on he preceding play.
"It's a battle and words are exchanged, but he did say that," Ward said. "The play before I hit him, he got up talking and he was going to do this to me and do that, but the next play he was the one that got knocked out."
Ward is getting the reputation for his aggressive style of play. There have been times when his play has been considered dirty.
"I'm not a dirty player. It's football. It's a physical sport," Ward said. "I mean, I don't see what's wrong with cut-blocking somebody just because they don't wear pads in their uniform. I don't think that makes you a dirty player. Defensive backs hate being cut-blocked, but to me it's a part of the game, so cut-blocking to me is not dirty and I don't look at it that way."
Ward has been fined $10,000 for taunting twice this season. One incident occurred during an exchange with former Steelers defensive back Rod Woodson, who is now with Baltimore.
"What player doesn't talk? I've seen worse taunting calls, but I didn't even point my finger at him (Woodson)," Ward said. "I just bent over to say something to Rod and I got fined $10,000, which is crazy to me, because I've heard a lot worse than what I said to Rod.
"I just don't think the officials are used to seeing a receiver going in there and blocking guys constantly like I am. Being it was Rod Woodson, he's an all-Pro who's fit to be a Hall of Famer. Just seeing a guy come in and constantly hitting on him, the officials thought we were starting to fight and they threw the flag."
TOUGH TIMES: Receiver Dennis Northcutt is normally easy to interview, but he is saying little these days. Northcutt didn't play a single down against Tennessee last Sunday.
Asked for a general remark about his season, Northcutt politely declined comment.
Northcutt has just 18 receptions for 211 yards with no touchdowns. He's done little to help his cause as a punt returner, averaging just 5.7 yards. Receiver Kevin Johnson handled all the punt-return chores against the Titans.