No rest for grunt guys

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

The glamour boys could take the afternoon off, but not the grunt men of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not that they wanted too, either.

As celebrated as rookie quarterback Ben Roethisberger and veteran running back Jerome (The Bus) Bettis have been this season, the Steelers big men showed yesterday how and why it all works.

In their playoff-crushing 29-24 win over the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium, the offensive line claimed control of the trenches and never surrendered.

"With this team, what it really comes down to is how the offensive line blocks," centre Jeff Hartins said. "It's all about aggressiveness. It's an attitude toward the game, an attitude that we take seriously."

The Steelers have taken that mindset through a stellar run of 14 consecutive wins, equalling the NFL record for a streak in a single regular season set by the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

They did it in defeating the previously unbeaten New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles earlier in the season.

And they did it again yesterday, manhandling the Bills defensive front to first establish the run then dominate by it. And that was with both Bettis and Roethlisberger not dressed.

"What do you think?" Bills safety Lawyer Milloy said when asked if the powerful Steelers linemen controlled the game. "Even if we would have won the game, we would have to get some things corrected with the running game."

Considering the way previously unheard of rookie running back Willie Parker ran through them for 102 yards, chewing up clock time and yardage, Milloy had a point.

Because of the roster size, the Steelers had to keep many of their starting O-linemen in the game for much of the contest. That worked just fine for guard Alan Faneca, who didn't want to come to Orchard Park to wear a poncho on the sideline.

"We came in here to win a game and play a game," Faneca one of two Pro Bowlers on the Steelers line said. "If I've got my helmet and cleats on, I'm going out on the field to play."


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