The LBs drive the defense

That second-half shutout the Steelers threw at the Lions had the linebackers' fingerprints all over it.

From Lawrence Timmons taking away Reggie Bush in the flat on pass coverage, to Jason Worilds' sack of Matthew Stafford, to Jarvis Jones blowing up Calvin Johnson on a shallow crossing route in what became a 37-27 triumph.

Linebackers coach Keith Butler wouldn't have it any other way.

"I always tell them in that room the linebackers in general have to play well for us to win because we're a big part of special teams, too," Butler said. "If we play well we usually give us a better chance to win."

It wasn't just the linebackers. But the linebackers showed up, and the rest of the Steelers' defensive game eventually came together in dominating fashion.

And there's always a lot to talk about in the linebackers' room when that occurs.

On injured linebacker Larry Foote's contention that Timmons needs to play ticked off and angry to be as good as he can be: "Every linebacker plays better if they're ticked off. You gotta play with a 'mean' on, really. You gotta be aggressive and you gotta play with a little fire under your belt. Lawrence is no different than anybody else. If he plays that way he's going to be aggressive like we want him to be, and he's going to be physical like we want him to be. He has the God-given talent to make plays all over the field, and he has.

"He knows he has to play well for us to win. He and LaMarr (Woodley) both have to play well for us to win."

On physicality at the linebacker position: "I'm not saying you're out there to hurt anybody; we're not. We're out there to be physical and let them know we're there. They've done a pretty god job of that."

On the need for him to dominate: "It's my seventh year. I'm one of the guys who's a leader on the defense, and I'm supposed to assume my role. I'm calling the defense now so it's definitely a bigger role for me. I want to show my teammates I can do it, and I'm more than willing.

"I have to play better now. Before, I had James Farrior, Larry Foote. Those guys were doing it for a while. I just had a simple assignment. I didn't have to call the defense. It's a little different now."

On whether he plays "ticked off," as Foote maintains Timmons must: "I do play with emotion but not necessarily ticked off. I do love playing physical, I guess that's what he's saying, just be nastier, have that approach."

On the significance of the outside linebacker position: "In a 3-4 defense the outside linebackers actually do more. We're asked to play the run. We're asked to rush the quarterback, drop back in coverage. When we're playing well as outside linebackers and middle linebackers then we're a hard team to beat."

On the need for him to dominate: "Everybody has to play well individually. That's how it is."

On losing his starting position to Jones early in the season: "I work here, I'm an employee. They have to make a business decision. Sometimes it's out of your hands no matter what you do. You keep that in mind and you have to continue to get better and better yourself and when opportunity comes you have to play."

On whether he plays with a chip on his shoulder: "They took my spot away from me so what pressure is there? I go out there and I play to win, and I play for my teammates. That type of stuff will drive you crazy if you feed into it. You have to just go out there and play your game."

On what he's doing in his new role as an unofficial assistant to Butler while on IR: "Giving the boys some pointers. When you've been playing this game for so long you can tell the young guys what to do. Some fundamental stuff, stuff to make your game easier, what to expect from certain formations, some in-the-helmet pointers, stuff I see, pre-snap stuff. Our linebackers coach played a long time, but it's a different game now."

On the value of Foote's assistance: "He's gonna tell them to guess just like he did all the time."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.