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Feeling hungry again

Steelers 38, New Orleans Saints 31

November 12, 2006

Heinz Field

Feeling hungry: A week earlier Willie Parker talked the talk. And then he walked the walk.

During the week Parker was critical of his teammates, saying they were satisfied with winning Super Bowl XL the year before and weren't hungry.

"A week ago, I kind of put it on my teammates by saying we weren't hungry," said Parker. "Coach (Bill Cowher) pulled me into his office and said I can't be doing that because some people might take it the wrong way.

"So I took off from talking to the media this week and kind of looked at myself in the mirror. Should I have said it? I don't know if I should have or if I shouldn't have. I only know we're a much better team than we had been playing.

"They are my teammates and we are real close. We are a team. The stuff we say to each other will stay with us. Some teammates came at me. But they weren't mad at me. They said, 'Willie, you were kind of right.'"

Parker showed he was hungry, and the team showed they were better than they had been playing, in front of the home crowd.

He had 22 carries for 213 yards, second all-time at the time to Frenchy Fuqua who ran for 218 yards in 1970 against the Eagles. He also scored two fourth quarter touchdowns. Parker rattled off runs of 72 and 76 yards, both which he soon followed up by short touchdown runs.

"I didn't think they could catch me," said Parker of being tackled from behind on the long runs. "I learned something new today.

"I kind of took the foot off the pedal a little bit. I hit the hole hard but not as hard as I used to because I'm waiting for things to set up. I'm smarter running with the ball."

A much-needed win: A struggling Steelers team, who had lost their last three games and six of their last seven, needed this win bad.

"It's been a long time, but we still know how to do it," said linebacker James Farrior. "We had to knock the dust off, but we got a win today."

Pep talk pays off: The on-field frustration, especially coming off a season when they won Super Bowl XL, started to get to the players, who aired things out in a meeting at the team hotel before the game. Multiple players stood up and spoke, including Aaron Smith, who had tears in his eyes.

"I love this team," said Smith. "If I can do something to help us win, share my mind and how I feel about the guys in this locker room, that's what I'm going to do. I just wanted to tell everybody to come together and believe in each other, never quit, believe you're going to win this game no matter what, fight for each other."

Speak up: The Steelers gave up 513 yards, while gaining 467, but all that mattered in the end was the final score.

"I'd rather give up 500 yards of offense and win than give up 98 yards and lose," said Coach Bill Cowher.

Speak up 2: In the previous weeks, and in the losses, turnovers plagued the Steelers. They had 24 turnovers in the first half of the season, this marking the first game they didn't commit a turnover. On this day, they created the turnovers with three fumble recoveries, including one in the closing minute of the game that secured the win.

"We had no turnovers, we got three turnovers," said guard Alan Faneca. "That's big. That's a big turnaround from the way we've been playing lately."