Steelers turned up violence at Tennessee

History played a role in the Steelers' violent approach at Tennessee last Sunday, says SCI.net's Mike Prisuta, who believes it should be a lesson for all.

What stood out more than the statistics was the viciousness.

Beyond holding Chris Johnson to 34 yards on 16 carries in Nashville, the Steelers pummeled the Titans' 2,000-yard man. They didn't just gang-tackle, they gang-fought Johnson in what quickly became a Tennessee beat-down.

And you thought they were going to "unleash hell" last December.

Their version of The Inferno this September extracted from Johnson not just his will to carry the football but also his desire to block and even recover fumbles.

"We wanted him to feel us," Brett Keisel said.

Johnson is likely still feeling the Steelers, who assaulted him individually and in numbers.

Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Clark, LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison, James Farrior, they took turns and sometimes they refused to wait their turn.

The most violent team would win, coach Mike Tomlin had advised his team.

The most violent team did. And the hits were as obvious as they were thunderous.

Oftentimes, Bryant McFadden said, the Steelers aren't aware of the extent of the damage they're inflicting until their Monday video reviews, because the carnage occurs in a pile-up or a crowd or is otherwise shrouded.

Not this time.

It was open field and open season, and not only on Johnson. Vince Young, too, was planted with extreme prejudice.

"Sunday, the hits were very visible for everybody to see, like ‘oh wow,'" McFadden said. "That was nice. If you're a fan of physical football, you had to love that."

The goal, McFadden said, was the same as always: "Play hard, play fast and try to bang 'em out, have ‘em tap (out)."

But this time in achieving its goal a defense that traditionally prides itself on extracting a physical toll noticeably upped the ante. This was Mean Joe Greene mean, and unmatched in terms of slobber-knocking fervor for the modern-era Steelers.

"Off the top of my head I can't think of anybody that we've gotten after quite like that in a while," Aaron Smith acknowledged.

It wasn't an accident or a coincidence.

The Steelers' defense was rabid in its attack, Smith said, because the Steelers' defense was aware of Johnson's combustibility, and because the Steelers' defense remembered the Titans – specifically how the Titans had responded throughout and in the immediate aftermath of their 31-14, home-field clinching victory over the Steelers on Dec. 21, 2008 in Tennessee.

And no, he wasn't talking about disrespecting the Terrible Towel.

"A couple of years ago when we went down there they ran through us pretty good and there were some things said that I think guys have kind of harbored a little bit against them, some long feelings about things said and things done at the end of a game," Smith said. "When you're beating somebody and you try to embarrass them and say some things during the game, there was some stuff said and it's hard to let go of some stuff like that."

The Steelers, too, have been known to talk on the field but Smith insists there's a line they won't cross.

"There may be some trash-talking but it's nothing embarrassing to make you feel demeaned, I guess, after losing a game," he said. "There wasn't much talking at the end of the game this time."

Memo to upcoming opponents of the Steelers: Don't piss them off.


Steel City Insider Top Stories