'Oh, they knew'

The Steelers lost to the Patriots twice in AFC title games, and now they're wondering if they were cheated out of another ring or two.

PITTSBURGH – His coaching reputation in tatters over an ongoing NFL investigation into his spying of other teams, Bill Belichick apologized Wednesday to "everyone who as been affected, most of all ownership, staff and players," he said.

That apology might also be directed at the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Belichick's New England Patriots beat the Steelers in AFC championship games at the conclusion of the 2001 and 2004 seasons. After one of the losses, Hines Ward complained that the Patriots seemed to know the Steelers' offensive plays ahead of time.

"Oh, they knew," Ward said yesterday. "They were calling our stuff out. They knew, especially that first championship game here at Heinz Field. They knew a lot of our calls. There's no question some of their players were calling out some of our stuff."

Ward was reminded that the Patriots are being accused of stealing defensive signals, not the offensive signals which are relayed to the quarterback via microphone in his helmet. But Ward didn't change his stance.

"If they're stealing something, I wouldn't put it past them to steal something else either," he said.

Belichick's video assistant, Matt Estrella, had his camera and videotape confiscated Sunday during the Patriots' game against the New York Jets. Amid rumors of past wrongdoing, Belichick met with Commissioner Roger Goodell and then issued his brief apology Wednesday. When pressed on the issue, Belichick left the room.

Several of the Steelers' defensive players polled yesterday said that an offense wouldn't gain much of an advantage if the hand signals of their coaching staff were deciphered by opponents. But assistant coaches, off the record, said the Steelers change their defensive signals each time they play the Patriots to avoid such shenanigans.

"Man, I don't know," said nose tackle Casey Hampton. "In this league everybody knows what everybody's going to run. It's just a matter of stopping it. The bottom line is you watch enough film and you know where guys are and where they're coming from. Can you stop it?"

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger disagreed.

"It matters," he said. "If you know what coverage it is, you can call certain plays or you know where guys are going to be, because defenses do such a great job of disguising stuff nowadays that if you know exactly what's coming you can know whether to call a run or a pass, or inside or outside."

Word from the league office is that the penalty being mulled over for the Patriots is a loss of "multiple draft picks."

"Take away their first or second-round pick," said Ward. "That would be a stiff penalty to make sure nobody does it again.

"Hopefully we can find a way to have a nice punishment where it doesn't happen again. You look back in the past, and we played them in the championship games, and you kind of wonder. It seemed like they were a step ahead of us at all times. But those games are behind us. There's nothing we can do about it. You just look forward and see what the commissioner will do."


Steel City Insider Top Stories

\r\n\r\nPITTSBURGH – His coaching reputation in tatters over an ongoing NFL investigation into his spying of other teams, Bill Belichick apologized Wednesday to \"everyone who as been affected, most of all ownership, staff and players,\" he said.

\r\n\r\nThat apology might also be directed at the Pittsburgh Steelers.

\r\n\r\nBelichick's New England Patriots beat the Steelers in AFC championship games at the conclusion of the 2001 and 2004 seasons. After one of the losses, Hines Ward complained that the Patriots seemed to know the Steelers' offensive plays ahead of time.

\r\n\r\n\"Oh, they knew,\" Ward said yesterday. \"They were calling our stuff out. They knew, especially that first championship game here at Heinz Field. They knew a lot of our calls. There's no question some of their players were calling out some of our stuff.\"

\r\n\r\nWard was reminded that the Patriots are being accused of stealing defensive signals, not the offensive signals which are relayed to the quarterback via microphone in his helmet. But Ward didn't change his stance.

\r\n\r\n\"If they're stealing something, I wouldn't put it past them to steal something else either,\" he said.

\r\n\r\nBelichick's video assistant, Matt Estrella, had his camera and videotape confiscated Sunday during the Patriots' game against the New York Jets. Amid rumors of past wrongdoing, Belichick met with Commissioner Roger Goodell and then issued his brief apology Wednesday. When pressed on the issue, Belichick left the room.

\r\n\r\nSeveral of the Steelers' defensive players polled yesterday said that an offense wouldn't gain much of an advantage if the hand signals of their coaching staff were deciphered by opponents. But assistant coaches, off the record, said the Steelers change their defensive signals each time they play the Patriots to avoid such shenanigans.

\r\n\r\n\"Man, I don't know,\" said nose tackle Casey Hampton. \"In this league everybody knows what everybody's going to run. It's just a matter of stopping it. The bottom line is you watch enough film and you know where guys are and where they're coming from. Can you stop it?\"

\r\n\r\nQuarterback Ben Roethlisberger disagreed.

\r\n\r\n\"It matters,\" he said. \"If you know what coverage it is, you can call certain plays or you know where guys are going to be, because defenses do such a great job of disguising stuff nowadays that if you know exactly what's coming you can know whether to call a run or a pass, or inside or outside.\"

\r\n\r\nWord from the league office is that the penalty being mulled over for the Patriots is a loss of \"multiple draft picks.\"

\r\n\r\n\"Take away their first or second-round pick,\" said Ward. \"That would be a stiff penalty to make sure nobody does it again.

\r\n\r\n\"Hopefully we can find a way to have a nice punishment where it doesn't happen again. You look back in the past, and we played them in the championship games, and you kind of wonder. It seemed like they were a step ahead of us at all times. But those games are behind us. There's nothing we can do about it. You just look forward and see what the commissioner will do.\"

","mobileBody":" PITTSBURGH – His coaching reputation in tatters over an ongoing NFL investigation into his spying of other teams, Bill Belichick apologized Wednesday to \"everyone who as been affected, most of all ownership, staff and players,\" he said.

That apology might also be directed at the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Belichick's New England Patriots beat the Steelers in AFC championship games at the conclusion of the 2001 and 2004 seasons. After one of the losses, Hines Ward complained that the Patriots seemed to know the Steelers' offensive plays ahead of time.

\"Oh, they knew,\" Ward said yesterday. \"They were calling our stuff out. They knew, especially that first championship game here at Heinz Field. They knew a lot of our calls. There's no question some of their players were calling out some of our stuff.\"

Ward was reminded that the Patriots are being accused of stealing defensive signals, not the offensive signals which are relayed to the quarterback via microphone in his helmet. But Ward didn't change his stance.

\"If they're stealing something, I wouldn't put it past them to steal something else either,\" he said.

Belichick's video assistant, Matt Estrella, had his camera and videotape confiscated Sunday during the Patriots' game against the New York Jets. Amid rumors of past wrongdoing, Belichick met with Commissioner Roger Goodell and then issued his brief apology Wednesday. When pressed on the issue, Belichick left the room.

Several of the Steelers' defensive players polled yesterday said that an offense wouldn't gain much of an advantage if the hand signals of their coaching staff were deciphered by opponents. But assistant coaches, off the record, said the Steelers change their defensive signals each time they play the Patriots to avoid such shenanigans.

\"Man, I don't know,\" said nose tackle Casey Hampton. \"In this league everybody knows what everybody's going to run. It's just a matter of stopping it. The bottom line is you watch enough film and you know where guys are and where they're coming from. Can you stop it?\"

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger disagreed.

\"It matters,\" he said. \"If you know what coverage it is, you can call certain plays or you know where guys are going to be, because defenses do such a great job of disguising stuff nowadays that if you know exactly what's coming you can know whether to call a run or a pass, or inside or outside.\"

Word from the league office is that the penalty being mulled over for the Patriots is a loss of \"multiple draft picks.\"

\"Take away their first or second-round pick,\" said Ward. \"That would be a stiff penalty to make sure nobody does it again.

\"Hopefully we can find a way to have a nice punishment where it doesn't happen again. You look back in the past, and we played them in the championship games, and you kind of wonder. It seemed like they were a step ahead of us at all times. But those games are behind us. There's nothing we can do about it. You just look forward and see what the commissioner will do.\"

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