Notebook: Carson nearly toppled the dynasty

... and Max Starks hopes he's the only ex-Gator celebrating tonight after the Steelers host the Chicago Bears this aftern oon.

PITTSBURGH – The most frustrating loss of the late Bud Carson's coaching career was Super Bowl XIV, when, as the defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams, Carson had the heavily favored Pittsburgh Steelers on the run.

Going into the fourth quarter, the Rams led the Steelers by 19-17 and the Steelers were playing without wide receiver Lynn Swann. Carson called for his defense to double-team John Stallworth, but Stallworth still beat the Rams with two big catches in the fourth quarter.

After the game, frustrated by the Rams' defense, the Steelers accused Carson -- their former defensive coordinator -- of stealing their signs during the game. Steelers defensive coordinator George Perles was so certain of it he began shuffling linebackers Loren Toews and Robin Cole with his play-calls.

"That was all bull---- from Perles," Carson said in a 2004 interview for the book Tales From Behind The Steel Curtain.

"No one knew the calls. I just thought we matched up with them well. We had the right defense to handle Pittsburgh I thought. We had an odd stack-over type defense that we played a lot."

The previous year, Carson's Rams held the Steelers to 174 yards in a 10-7 win. It was the Steelers' last loss of the 1978 season.

Dan Radakovich was with Carson on the Rams' staff in Super Bowl XIV. He was another former Steelers assistant and has a theory on why Perles accused the Rams of stealing signs.

"I used to steal signals from some teams when I was with the Steelers," Radakovich said. "So he thought we were stealing his defensive signals, but that couldn't have been further from the truth. For one thing, I was up in the box, and the second thing is I had other things to worry about. Normally a line coach is on the sidelines but I was up in the box. No, nobody even looked at what the Steelers were signaling. That was Perles. He was guessing, but he had some logic on that point because he knew I'd done it a few times." GATOR REUNION

With Todd Johnson starting for the Chicago Bears in place of injured free safety Chris Harris today, Max Starks will have a chance to block three of his former teammates at the University of Florida.

Starting on the Bears defense along with Johnson are former Gators Ian Scott at nose tackle and Alex Brown at right defensive end. Another former Gator, quarterback Rex Grossman, is back from injury and could see his first action of the season if Kyle Orton plays poorly.

"It'll be a little bit of a Gator reunion," said Starks, the Steelers' right tackle.

He was asked for a synopsis of the Bears' vaunted defensive line.

"They're a bunch of blue-collar guys that work hard and work well together," Starks said. "That's one of the biggest things with any defense. They all take a blue-collar mentality and they don't play into labels or stereotypes. These guys work hard and they want to get the job done and they have a great complementary second line with their linebackers, who play fast and play downhill." INJURY REPORT

The Steelers will again be without left tackle Marvel Smith. The Bears' defense will be without both of their safeties.

Harris sprained an MCL last week and will be replaced by Johnson. Mike Brown, the play-making strong safety, was downgraded Friday to questionable with a calf injury. He's expected to be replaced by Mike Green. It'll mark the first time this season any of the Bears' defensive starters will miss a game because of injury.

Offensively, Bears right guard Terrence Metcalf (shoulder) will be replaced by Roberto Garza, who has made four starts this season at left guard. SHUFFLIN' THROUGH

New Orleans native Alan Faneca was asked if he remembers the '85 Bears winning the Super Bowl in his town.

"I was a kid," he said.

But, wasn't he old enough – at 9 -- to be a fan?

"Yeah," he said. "But I didn't know about three-techniques and gaps, the mike in the A gap, stuff like that. I just wanted to know if the Fridge was going to get it." FAST WILLIE

Even after rushing for 272 yards in his first two games – against defense-deficient Tennessee and Houston – Willie Parker has averaged 4.0 yards per carry over the last nine games. He was inactive against Cleveland with an ankle injury.

"I'm holding up real good. I feel real good," he said. "The ankle's a little tender but I'm OK."

Parker was asked about running against the NFL's No. 1 overall defense.

"They're really aggressive," he said. "Hopefully we can stay with our game plan throughout the whole game and don't have to switch to Plan B."

What's Plan B?

"I don't know. I don't know if there is a Plan B."


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