Hines Ward is used to pressure on the football field and proved he can handle it off the field as well on Monday night's episode of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars."
Ward had two dances to perform on the show, including a fox trot and jive. But there was a twist as the jive was an "instant dance" where he learned his music just 20 minutes before performing the dance.
Ward and partner Kym Johnson wowed the judges with their first performance of the night, dancing a fun fox trot to "This Will Be" that ended with Ward playfully pulling a ring out of his pocket to propose to Johnson.
They also impressed those watching, as Ward and Johnson were safe on Tuesday night's result show, advancing them to the semi-finals.
"Kym said the routine is kind of cheesy, over-exaggerating the smile, trying to show the story," said Ward in a taped package before his dance. "If that's what it takes to score big, I'm as cheesy as it gets.
"For the two weeks leading up to the finals I am going to listen to Kym. She knows best, she has been there before. I am leaning on her. I want to be in the final three. I want to win this thing."
Ward also used his football savvy to prepare for the dance, watching tape of fellow contestant Ralph Macchio perform the fox trot in a prior week.
"It's something I would do in football," said Ward. "You look at your next opponent's performance to get the mindset of what I need to do to try to get that edge."
His efforts paid off as his performance had the crowd cheering and waving Terrible Towels, including Troy Polamalu, and had the judges comparing it to both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly as he earned him 28 out of 30, including a 10 from judge Bruno Tonioli.
Things got tougher when they had to perform their instant dance to the jive, a dance the judges all said was one of the toughest.
While they practiced some of the moves last week, they didn't know their music until they selected "Chantilly Lace" and then had 20 minutes to put together their routine.
"I was looking forward to doing the jive because I had never done it before, but now that it's an instant jive I am a little nervous about it," said Ward during the show. "I rely on the music, hearing the beat and hearing the vocals. That's how I dance and pick out my spots in the dance routine. Not having that I don't know how I am going to get through it.
"Now that we are coming down to the wire you can't afford to have any bad weeks. There is no tomorrow. It's one game, you lose you go home."
Ward responded just like he does on the football field, with another strong outing that earned him 26 out of 30, including an eight from Tonioli that was met by boos from the ballroom audience. Ward finished the night with a total of 54 out of 60, putting him in second place behind Disney actress Chelsea Kane who received 55 out of 60.
One couple will be eliminated on the "Dancing with the Stars" results show on Tuesday night. Final results are based on the judges and fan voting.
What The Judges Said During the Show:Carrie Ann Inaba:
On the fox trot: "You are such a guy's guy Hines. I love that. You don't try to frill it up. You don't do anything extravagant. You stick to the program. I loved it. Great job."
On the instant dance – jive: "You did an amazing job. It was amazing. It was really fantastic. You were on every beat. What I loved about this is you totally relaxed into the moment."
On the fox trot: "Your dancing has such great appeal. Your personality just radiates throughout the ballroom, to the judges and I hope to the viewers. It's just a joyful experience to watch you. You just sit back and watch the dance reveal before your eyes. It's just fluid. Unfortunately your feet were a little bit… You said you felt might it might be a little bit cheesy. Well if that's cheesy I love it."
On the instant dance – jive: "All work and no play make a good dancer and I can tell you have worked hard this week. This was a real tough dance and you've done a fantastic job."
On the fox trot: "Yes, yes, yes. I love it. That was a performance. It was beaming with a blissful sense of happiness. You got me."
On the instant dance – jive: "The energy is fantastic. The kicks were flat-footed. But it's incredibly difficult. The jive is one of the hardest dances. You did an incredible job in 20 minutes."
What He Said:
Hines Ward after his dances on the show:
On his partner Kym Johnson: "It's a fun relationship. We have fun when we go to work. She makes it all fun. To still be in this competition I owe it all to Kym. She is a great teacher."
On comments from his teammates: "They have given me a lot of encouragement and said if that's what it takes to win the Mirror Ball then go out there and be the master of cheese."
On the instant dance – jive: "It definitely wasn't easy. That was like a P90X workout. It was good. It's the offseason and I am getting in shape getting ready for the season. It definitely helped me out."