By Inside Pittsburgh Sports
Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley has questioned the integrity of the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals as they prepare for the last day of the 2009 regular season in the NFL.
Woodley believes the Patriots and Bengals will “lay down” in games which are virtually meaningless for them.
But the New England at Houston and Cincinnati at the New York Jets games aren’t meaningless for Steelers. For the Steelers (8-7) to land a wild-card berth, the Texans (8-7) and Jets (8-7) might have to both lose.
“Cincinnati is probably going to go into New York and lay down for the Jets and not play them hard just because they’re not going to want to see Pittsburgh in it,” Woodley said.
“All of them will lay down. No one wants to see Pittsburgh in it. That’s just how it is. Everybody knows we’re a dangerous team once we get into the playoffs, no matter how we played the whole year.
Once we get into the playoffs, the Pittsburgh Steelers is a playoff team.”
Linebacker James Harrison agreed, at least when it comes to the Bengals.
“They might sell us up the river,” Harrison said. “We did blow it for them that one year. I don’t know if they forgot that or not. I just hope they out in there and play a full game with all their starters.”
Harrison was referring to a 2005 wild-card game when the Steelers won in Cncinnati.
New England coach Bill Belichick and Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis have not determined their exact strategy for how long their key starters will play on Sunday. Lewis did say that he may rest some players if the Patriots win their game which starts at 1 p.m.
The Bengals/Jets game starts at 8:20 p.m.
If the Pats win Sunday, they will be the AFC’s No. 3 seed while the Bengals will be No. 4.
Polamalu unlikely to play against Miami
It doesn’t appear that strong safety Troy Polamalu will play against the Dolphins. Polamalu did practice Wednesday, although it was on a limited basis. It’s quite apparent that his left sprained knee isn’t 100 percent healed.
When asked if he’s being bothered by pain, swelling or lack of mobility, Polamalu said. “When you take this much time off, it’s a mix of everything.”
If Polamalu misses Sunday’s game as expected, he’ll have missed 11 games this year.
In the Sept. 10 season opener against Tennessee, Polamalu suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament that forced him to miss four games.
Then on Nov. 15, Polamalu sprained his posterior cruciate ligament.
“It’s frustrating,” he said.
When asked if there’s any chance he’ll play against the Dolphins, Polamalu said, “I don’t know. It depends on how it feels (later in the week). It’s still in the healing process. Hopefully, it will get better in the next few days.”
Wednesday Injury Report
Joining Polamalu as players who practiced on a limited basis Wednesday were running back Willie Parker (shoulder) and linebacker Rocky Boiman.
Defensive end Brett Keisel (neck), defensive end Travis Kirschke (calf), guard Chris Kemoeatu (right wrist), and receiver Hines Ward (hamstring) did not practice today.
Wide receiver Mike Wallace is a unanimous choice as the Steelers’ 2009 Rookie of the Year.
Meanwhile, linebacker James Farrior was a landslide winner of the “The Chief Award,” presented annually to the Steeler who best exemplifies the spirit of cooperation with the media, which was established in honor of Steelers’ founder, Arthur J. Rooney, Sr.
“I just believed in myself, hoping for an opportunity,” said Wallace, a third-round draft pick who’s fourth on the team with 37 catches, fourth with 692 receiving yards and tied for second with five touchdown catches.
“I just thank the organization for giving me the opportunity to get in and play, believing I can make the plays. It’s a great honor to be out there.”
Farrior, a 13-year veteran, said he was honored to receive the media award because it’s named in honor the franchise’s founder, the late Art Rooney Sr.
“I want to thank the media for giving me this very prestigious award,” Farrior said. “I am very proud of it. In honor of our late owner Mr. Rooney it’s really special to me. That gives it that much more emphasis and that much more prestige.”
Woodley named AFC Defensive player of the week
For his impressive performance Sunday in a 23-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens, LaMarr Woodley has been named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
Woodley finished the game with seven solo tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.
Woodley sacked quarterback Joe Flacco twice on the Ravens’ final drive of the game. The second sack resulted in a fumble that was recovered by rookie defensive end Ziggy Hood.
Woodley, a second-round pick in the 2007 draft, leads the Steelers with 11.5 sacks this season.
He set a franchise record Sunday by recording at least a half-sack in seven consecutive games. The previous record of six was set by linebacker Greg Lloyd in 1994.
Roethlisberger, Woodley, Miller named Pro Bowl alternates
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, linebacker LaMarr Woodley and tight end Heath Miller were named first team alternates for the AFC Pro Bowl team today.