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Steelers linebacker Timmons torches Eagles

| Monday, Oct. 8, 2012,
Christopher Horner
Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons pressures Eagles quarterback Michael Vick during the second quarter Sunday October 7, 2012 at Heinz Field. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

All eyes were on linebacker James Harrison as he made his season debut Sunday at Heinz Field.

Most everyone was anxious to see if his surgically repaired knee would hold up against the Philadelphia Eagles.

However, with the Steelers in a somewhat must-win predicament, it was oft-maligned linebacker Lawrence Timmons who stepped up in leading the Steelers to a come-from-behind 16-14 victory.

Timmons led the Steelers with nine tackles (eight solo). He had two tackles for a loss and two quarterback hits. Not a bad effort considering Timmons had 12 tackles through the first three games.

Timmons unleashed the fiery, caged lion muzzled at times by undersized running backs. He looked like a big cat chasing down prey, often tossing aside Philadelphia's mammoth offensive linemen while in pursuit of quarterback Michael Vick and former Pitt running back LeSean McCoy.

Timmons consistently harassed Vick before stripping him of the ball late in the second quarter at the Eagles 34.

“I wanted to show a lot of effort out there,” Timmons said. “Our coaches did a good job in pregame, and it carried over into the game. We did a good job of keeping (Vick) bottled up.”

Perhaps it was the return of Harrison and safety Troy Polamalu that inspired Timmons. But he seemed to find another gear when Polamalu limped off the field after aggravating his sore calf.

The pressure mounted when outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley was sidelined in the second quarter with a right hamstring injury.

Timmons altered the Eagles' game plan as he often disrupted their timing by either flushing Vick from the pocket or sealing the middle of the Steelers' defense, which was gutted by Oakland's Darren McFadden in a 34-31 loss two weeks ago.

“Our defense stood up today,” Timmons said. “A good team is always defined by how they do after a loss. The energy we were playing with, running to the ball, that's what it's all about.

“In the first half they had me on the back. In the second half, the center or the guard came out on me, but they blitzed me outside and I still got some pressure.

“We just didn't want Vick to get comfortable because he can hurt you downfield.”

Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau dialed up myriad blitz schemes. They all somehow involved Timmons, who several times shot gaps to rattle Vick.

“I'll say, compared to the last game, I was around the ball more,” Timmons said. “Our defensive line did a good job of containment (on Vick).”

It may have been business as usual for Timmons, but defensive end Ziggy Hood was quick to notice that Timmons was determined to influence the game's outcome.

“It gave us energy to see (Timmons) balling like that,” Hood said. “He did his job. He had a Pro Bowl-caliber game. The man played hard, and as a defense we fed from it.”

Added safety Ryan Mundy: “Somebody is going to always provide that spark of energy. It was Lawrence today.”

Linebacker Larry Foote said the Steelers are likely to turn loose Timmons when the Steelers play in Tennessee Thursday night.

“I know a lot of people put a lot of heat on him to make big splash plays,” Foote said, “but if you come in to watch film, he's one of the best players on our defense.”

Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rpaulk@tribweb.com or 412-320-7923.

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