D Bounces Back

The Steelers say the stink's still hanging around, but they came a little clean by shutting out the Seattle Seahawks Sunday.

PITTSBURGH – If you can't get the stink off, bathe in tomato juice.

Or, pitch a shutout.

The Steelers, according to coach Mike Tomlin, will carry the stink of their opening-game debacle for some time, but a 24-0 blanking of the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at least changes the yellowed t-shirts.

"I don't know," said James Harrison as he pondered the importance of Sunday's shutout. "I'm just happy to actually be here playing and not retired with a wheelchair somewhere."

Of course it wasn't just the embarrassment in Baltimore that inspired these Steelers on Sunday. It was the criticism that followed, and got a bit personal at times.

The Steelers heard that they were over the hill. And they heard the laughter – the belly laughter, in fact – that came with it.

The once-proud Steelers were laughingstocks whose only recourse was to bounce back strong. And they did against Seattle, which hasn't scored against the Steelers in 9½ quarters since the third quarter of Super Bowl XL.

The Steelers held the Seahawks to 8 first downs, 17 percent conversions on third down, 3.9 yards per pass play, 164 net yards of offense, 31 yards rushing, and of course the goose egg on the scoreboard.

They didn't cross midfield until a bit after the clock crossed the 10:00 mark of the fourth quarter.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll could've attempted a 43-yard field goal at that point, but he was still playing to win, and on fourth-and-8 quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was sacked by Harrison.

For Harrison, it was a bounce-back game as he finished with the sack and another tackle for loss. It was also a redemption song for Troy Polamalu, who was all over the field in leading the Steelers with 6 solo tackles, a co-share of the team lead with 8 total tackles, a sack and a pass defensed. He also was too quick in jumping a route that nearly resulted in an interception return for a touchdown.

Were Polamalu and his teammates trying to prove a point?

"Well, that's what we lacked last game," Polamalu said. "We lacked urgency. We lacked finish. We lacked discipline, technique, focus, all these different things. That's why we approached and played the game with the urgency that we had today.

"That's what's nice about those types of games (in Baltimore), to be honest. You can actually look at those, reflect on them, be humbled by them, and constantly think about those games and realize that if you don't approach each game humbled, if you don't approach each game with focus and urgency, you see what can happen."

Along with the obvious intangibles that went into the Steelers' play Sunday was a better job against the running game. A week after allowing the Ravens 5.5 per carry, the Marshawn Lynch-led Seahawks averaged only 2.4 per carry.

"We knew their main weapon was Lynch, throwing screens to their backs, and alley screens to their wideouts," said Brett Keisel. "They did a lot of that last week, so that was the main thing we wanted to do, especially after a rush performance like we had last week. We wanted to come out and shut down the run, shut down the screens, make him beat us throwing the ball downfield, and he couldn't do that today."

But was it enough to quiet the critics?

"No," said Larry Foote. "Like Mike T said, that stink gonna be with us for half a season. We just have to keep getting better week in and week out."


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