Woodley tears down that wall

The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the San Diego Chargers, 35-24, to advance to the AFC Championship Game against the Baltimore Ravens. LaMarr Woodley, quiet down the stretch, busted out in the playoffs ... again.

PITTSBURGH -- Mike Tomlin said that he had teased LaMarr Woodley down the stretch, told him he had hit a wall, joked about his lack of sacks.

The presumption is that Woodley took his coach's ribbing in stride, the way he didn't with the media.

In fact, last week, Woodley got sick and tired of the question, even ornery and mean. So he did something about it. The Steelers' left outside linebacker got a pair of sacks to lead the defensive effort in Sunday's 35-24 win over the San Diego Chargers.

"The opportunity was just there," said Woodley, who had been held without a sack the last four games of the regular season.

"I made sure I wrapped him up. If you look at some of the other late games, I had the quarterback right there and didn't wrap him up. This time I couldn't let him get away in a crucial game like this."

So he slammed his head off the end zone.

"Oh, man. I hope I don't get fined for that," Woodley said. "Why y'all have to bring that up?"

Woodley will take the fine if it means another chance for a sack that deep in Steelers territory. That was his second sack of the game. The first occurred in the first quarter on 2nd-and-12, and after the 8-yard loss Woodley seemed to shout to the press box, "There's your wall!"

Instead, Woodley was just talking smack to the rambunctious San Diego quarterback Phil Rivers.

"He was jawing at me, telling me to get back to the huddle. So that kind of motivated me to get him again," Woodley said, and that's what he did.

On San Diego's first series of the four quarter, with the Steelers leading, 21-10, Woodley sacked Rivers for a 10-yard loss back to the Steelers' 1-yard line, and in the process ragdolled Rivers with a body slam in the end zone. The sack led to a Steelers touchdown a series later that effectively put the game away.

"Once that score went up a little bit, he quieted down," Woodley said of Rivers. "Now he's got a long flight back to California."

The sacks weren't the only big plays for Woodley, who in the first quarter ran with speedster Darren Sproles on a 3rd-and-5 play. Woodley blanketed the running back and forced a punt.

"He definitely has the speed that I don't have," Woodley said. "A little angle pursuit helped me beat him to a certain spot and that forced the quarterback to throw it over his head."

Woodley also slammed Sproles to the ground on another key reception as the linebacker played as fast and fresh as he has at any point during his 11.5-sack regular season.

"The bigger the ante is, the bigger the pot, the better we play," fellow Michigan alum Larry Foote said of Woodley.

Foote had an interception on San Diego's only third-down play.

"That's how we do it," he said. "LaMarr was whupping that tackle today."

"Woodley played a great game," said bookend James Harrison. "I couldn't get there, so he came in and got to the quarterback, just like he did all year."

Or at least most of the year.

Just kidding.

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