Loose cannon goes off

The Pittsburgh Steelers won't be able to sneak up on the undefeated New England Patriots on Sunday -- not after safety man Anthony Smith spoke up in the Steelers' locker room on Wednesday.

PITTSBURGH – Last week, Anthony Smith guaranteed that he and his fellow Steelers defensive backs would knock the confidence right out of the Cincinnati Bengals receivers. He was right.

This week, Smith has taken it a step further: He guaranteed a win over the undefeated New England Patriots.

"Yeah, why not?" said Smith, the Steelers' free safety. "We've got the No. 1 defense. We don't expect that to change, so why not? We think we're going to win every game anyway, so yeah."

Smith was asked if he's making like Joe Namath and guaranteeing the win.

"Yeah, I can guarantee a win, as long as we come out and do what we've got to do," he said. "If both sides of the ball are rolling and our special teams come through for us, we've got a good chance of winning."

Smith was asked if his teammates are with him on this.

"Yeah, they'll back me up," he said. "Everyone has the same attitude anyway, so it's not like it's a big thing."

But it became a big thing once Smith's words were relayed across the locker room.

"Yeah, I heard about that," said defensive captain James Farrior. "He better keep his mouth shut."

Alas, it was too late. Smith's words were already screeching across the radio waves as Farrior spoke.

"Oh, well," Farrior said. "Guess we got to go out there with that."

Notorious for taking the smallest slight and turning it into a boulder on their shoulder, the Patriots will likely devour Smith's words for breakfast.

"You're probably right," Farrior said. "But he's a guy that hasn't been around the league too long, so I don't even know if he can really qualify to say something like that. I don't even know if they'll pay that any attention."

It doesn't matter to the Steelers' defensive backs. They saw what happened to the Bengals' receivers last week. T.J. Houshmandzadeh was so intimidated he dropped an easy fourth-down touchdown pass. And Chad Johnson stepped out of bounds on the Bengals' last play rather than take another hit trying to get a first down.

"They got hit," said cornerback Bryant McFadden. "I know if I'm playing receiver, if I've got to worry about somebody coming across my head, regardless if I have the ball or not, it's going to take a little toll on you. That's what Coach (Dick) LeBeau was telling us Saturday night: outhit them, be the aggressor, be the one that's going to start the attack and finish the attack. That's something we tried to do and put in their mind that, regardless of the situation, they're going to get hit."

It's what the Philadelphia Eagles did to the Patriots' Randy Moss two weeks ago. Moss's 43 yards receiving was his low of the season until the Baltimore Ravens hit him and held him to 34 yards receiving Monday night.

The Steelers, of course, noticed and believe their physical style will work as well.

"I played with Moss for three years at Minnesota so I know he don't like to get hit," said strong safety Tyrone Carter. "He doesn't like guys in his face, stuff like that, so that's what we'll try to do: get in his face, put some hits on him. But don't try to do too much. Still stay within the framework of the defense, because if you put your attention on trying to get him, then you get yourself out of the assignment. So as long as it's within the framework of the defense, every time you get a chance to hit him, hit him."

It worked, to a degree, for Philadelphia and Baltimore.

"They said Baltimore was their most physical game," said Smith. "But I think we hit harder than Baltimore. They haven't seen nothing like us yet."


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