Notebook: Say Hey, Lee

<b>PITTSBURGH -</b> He's the same Lee Mays who'll replace Plaxico Burress at split end on passing downs. Then again, he might be an entirely new Lee Mays than the one who went into last Sunday's night's game with 5 catches in three years.

"I don't know if I saved the team," Mays said after catching two clutch passes on the game-winning, last-minute drive, "I just made the plays when the plays needed to be made." Steelers coach Bill Cowher saw it differently.

"Everybody stepped up," Cowher told his players after the game, "but nobody stepped up more than Lee Mays."

Joey Porter then allowed Mays to take his place in the center of the Steelers' post-victory "Who Ride? We Ride!" dance-and-shout routine.

Is Mays a new man?

"It feels good," he said. "You feel confident going into the next game."

Mays had dropped a third-and-11 pass earlier in the game that would've converted the first down, but rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn't think twice about going back to Mays when it mattered most.

"I told Lee after that drop, I said listen, I'm going to come back to you. You be ready," Roethlisberger said. "He said he would be and I knew he would be. So I came back to him twice and he proved me right, that he would step up when it mattered most."


When it became obvious earlier this season that the Steelers would continue on with a rookie quarterback, coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said the offense would operate at about 75 percent efficiency. He said Roethlisberger still hadn't mastered the no-huddle, which would hurt the 2-minute offense.

After Roethlisberger smoothly operated the no-huddle on the way to Sunday night's win, Whisenhunt was asked if the rookie had cleared his final hurdle.

"No. I don't think it was his last hurdle," he said. "We've expanded a little bit. We're still not doing as much as we've done in the past."

Is the offense at, say, 90 percent max efficiency?

"I don't know," Whisenhunt said. "The biggest thing is we're still not putting a whole bunch of new stuff in. He's still a rookie."

Can that be a good thing?

"Probably. I think so. It's good as long as guys are playing well. If you start to slip you need to do other things."


Jerome Bettis carried 3 times for 17 yards last Sunday night and looked as frisky as a colt. That's also how he came across on TV when Bettis was shown stalking Cowher along the sideline.

"I was just waiting to get the call," Bettis said. "If it doesn't come, it doesn't come. I was just waiting. I understand the situation. I think I'm maybe more anxious because I got a chance to get in there and get my feet going, but it's not a situation where I expect to play more than the situation calls for."

Bettis, while expecting to be passed by Curtis Martin on the all-time list, would need only 280 yards to regain the fifth position by passing Eric Dickerson. Bettis was asked if he'll come back next season.

"The possibility exists," he said. "But I'm going to look at it at the end the season like I've been doing the last few years. I want to see if the body holds up. If I can hold up until the end of the year, and feel good, then it may be something I want to do."


Steelers nose tackle Chris Hoke will match up against perhaps the best center in the league today when he takes on Kevin Mawae.

"One thing he does really well is he uses your aggressiveness against you," Hoke said. "He's real crafty and knows the tricks. He's been around a long time. It's going to be a great challenge."

Hoke took on another top center last week in Brad Meester. The Jaguars' center was miked for the nationally televised game, but neither he nor Hoke made anything more than grunting sounds upon the playback.

"Luckily they didn't show some of the things I said to him," Hoke said. "A couple times he (hacked) me off. You could tell he was miked up for the game. When I found out, I realized why he was doing some of the things he was doing. He was looking for the camera. After the play he was always trying to pull me down. I said, 'Man, what are you doing? The play's over.' But he's real good. It was a good battle."

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