LaMarr Woodley on Making Mark Sanchez Uncomfortable in the Pocket: “When we get back there we’ve got to hit him hard.”January 19, 2011 – 8:15 am by Michael Bean
The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the AFC Championship Game for the third time in six years after beating the rival Baltimore Ravens this past Saturday night. Next up is a home tilt with the brash, loud-mouthed New York Jets, who I wasn’t surprised to see tone down the talking this week as they prepare for the six-time champs. Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley is no stranger to stepping up in big spots come playoff time. In fact, he just recently had his streak of playoff games with at least two sacks snapped when he, gasp, only recorded one sack and recovered a fumble in the Divisional Round win over the Ravens.
Woodley joined The Colin Cowherd Show on ESPN Radio to talk about what was going through his mind when Ben Roethlisberger launched a deep bomb to rookie Antonio Brown late in last Saturday’s win over the Ravens, what he remembers about the Steelers’ Week 15 loss to the Jets, how he feels a sense of duty to carry on the rich tradition of the Steelers as a hard-hitting physical team, what he makes of the Jets’ trash-talking this playoffs, his thoughts on Mark Sanchez’s development as a quarterback, and how the Steelers hope to pressure Sanchez and allow the secondary (which will feature Troy Polamalu this time around unlike their regular season meeting) to make game-changing plays.
On what was going through his mind when Roethlisberger launched a deep bomb to rookie Antonio Brown on a 3rd and 19 situation late in the fourth quarter:
“You know what’s funny about that right now, I’m watching Antonio Brown do an interview on T.V. right now talking about that catch. Man, it was just unbelievable. In a 3rd-and-19 situation, he put the ball in the hands of a rookie. And Antonio Brown — I’ve been watching him all year, and the guy’s been making plays; in practice he makes big plays. And when he made that big play on Saturday, that was definitely a big play. He definitely had the ball up against the side of his head like he was talking on the cell phone.”
On what he remembers about the Steelers’ Week 15 loss to the Jets:
“The only thing I remember is they put nine points on the board without the offense being out there on the football field. They ran the opening kickoff back, and then they got a safety. So, you know, those are nine points they’re putting on the board without the Pittsburgh Steelers defense being out there. So that’s the main thing that I remember.”
Whether he feels a sense of duty to carry on the long, rich history of toughness for the Steelers franchise when he shows up to work every day:
“Yeah just the history and tradition of the team, and the loyalty of the fan base. When you’ve got loyal fans like us showing up at every game whether it’s home or away showing their support, I mean, it’s unbelievable. Not only during game day, but every day you’ve got fans commenting on my Twitter. Man, it’s just unbelievable.”
On what he makes of trash-talking by teams like the Jets:
“You know what, I actually watched The Hard Knocks show when the Jets were on it, and when teams trash talk, that’s just what they do. Some teams look at it as that just shows the confidence of our team — this is what we’re thinking, and we’re just going to put that out there. And other teams don’t know what they’re thinking and just keep to themselves and go out there and play football. But the Jets just take another approach to it.”
On what he thinks of Mark Sanchez’s development and the threat he poses heading into the AFC title game:
“I mean, he’s been developing. He’s been getting better week in and week out. Getting the ball to his receivers, you know, he played a good game on Sunday. He’s a quarterback who can move around in the pocket so he’s just not going to stand back there and take a hit. So I just think we have to do a good job getting pressure on him, and when we get back there we’ve got to hit him hard.”
On the importance of getting after Sanchez and making him uncomfortable in the pocket:
“Hey, that’s what the Pittsburgh Steelers do best. We apply pressure on quarterbacks and when you apply pressure on quarterbacks and hit them, that’s when turnovers happen; that’s when our secondary goes back there and makes plays. This time we’re going to have Troy Polamalu back there, and you know how the defense runs when he’s back there.”
Listen here to Woodley with Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio (interview begins at 14:10 mark)