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Steelers' Timmons 'can't explain' Pro Bowl snub

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Chargers tight end Antonio Gates picks up yardage past the Steelers' Lawrence Timmons during the fourth quarter Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, at Heinz Field.

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By the numbers

Lawrence Timmons' season breakdown:

Solo tackles: 86

Assists: 40

Total tackles: 126

Interceptions: 3

Sacks: 4

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Friday, Dec. 28, 2012, 11:36 p.m.
 

Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons put together a Pro Bowl-type season, playing all but two defensive snaps. Yet with the Steelers out of the playoffs, the Florida State product was overlooked when ballots were cast for the AFC all-star team.

Timmons was more upset that no one on the NFL's top-ranked defense was deemed good enough to make the trip to Hawaii. He and safety Ryan Clark were named as alternates.

“It's an honor to be an alternate, but I felt as if I played well enough to be in there,” Timmons said. “But the coaches and players have spoken, and I accept that.

“It's tough, but it's something I can't explain. We've always had (a defensive player) in the Pro Bowl for as long as I've been here.

“I'm not a rah-rah kind of guy, but I rather lead by example because it's always been a (frame) of mind. Everybody wants to know they are a good player, but getting notoriety isn't something I live by.”

Timmons, who will make his 94th career start against Cleveland on Sunday at Heinz Field, has dreamed of playing in the Pro Bowl since the Steelers drafted him 15th overall in 2007.

He had the numbers this season: a team-leading 126 tackles and three interceptions. He could become the first player to lead the team in tackles and interceptions since Joey Porter (89 tackles, four interceptions) in 2002.

The numbers, though, don't reflect what Timmons means to a defense that played significant minutes without key starters, including safety Troy Polamalu, linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley and cornerback Ike Taylor.

“He doesn't take his talents or job for granted, and it shows in the offseason,” Taylor said. “He's taken strides in learning defenses, and it's why he's able to make plays the way he's making them.”

Timmons made a number of big plays this season. He intercepted a pass in overtime that helped the Steelers secure a 16-13 win over Kansas City, and he returned an interception for a score in a loss at Cleveland.

A year ago, Timmons' numbers declined as he was asked to fill in at outside linebacker for the injured Woodley and Harrison. He had 91 tackles after amassing a team-best 149 in 2010.

“We all get caught up in the numbers too much,” Taylor said. “When you've got a linebacker who can play inside and outside, it says a lot about that guy and how unselfish he is. He could have demanded the coaches keep him inside to bolster his Pro Bowl chances, but that's not his demeanor.”

But some numbers do matter. For Timmons, they are the residuals of a grueling offseason workout plan.

“I don't want to ever leave a play out there,” Timmons said. “I didn't start the season the way I wanted, but I finished strong.”

Clark agreed a faster start probably would have landed Timmons in the Pro Bowl.

“I think when it comes to the Pro Bowl, people look at the splash plays,” Clark said. “I think Lawrence definitely had that during the second half of the season. Lawrence will be there before it's over.”

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

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