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Colts assistant: 'Let's go play again'

| Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2006

The war of words between the Steelers and Colts has resumed, and this time it's the Colts who have fired the opening salvo.

"I'm very respectful of the Pittsburgh Steelers," Indianapolis offensive line coach Howard Mudd said in Tuesday's editions of The Indianapolis Star. "They won. They are the champions, and I respect them. But the Pittsburgh Steelers did not beat the Colts. The Colts beat the Colts.

"Let's go play again. Right now."

Mudd's comments were published seven months to the day after the Steelers beat the Colts, 21-18, in an AFC divisional playoff game in Indianapolis.

The Colts surrendered five sacks in the loss, which tied the career-high in quarterback Peyton Manning's 137-game NFL tenure, after allowing a league-low 20 during the regular season.

Mudd blamed his offensive line.

"We stunk the joint up," Mudd told the Star. "We were awful.

"I cannot explain it. It defies reason. You can take three years' worth of bad games and put them together and that's about what we performed like, except we did it all in one game."

Steelers linebacker Joey Porter, who stirred the pot in advance of last January's Colts-Steelers rematch by insisting Indianapolis was a finesse team and that the Steelers were the more physical of the two, bolted the practice field at St. Vincent College yesterday before Mudd's comments could be relayed.

Linebacker Larry Foote filled in for Porter in issuing a response.

"He said we didn't beat them?" Foote said. "What happened on the defensive side of the ball, when our offense was driving up and down the field on them• He didn't say anything about the interception we had (by strong safety Troy Polamalu) that the referees called back?

"Tell him they were outcoached."

Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel got a hearty chuckle out of Mudd's assessment.

"That's fine with us," Keisel said. "We're not worried about the Colts. They got out-played, they got beat, we won the Super Bowl. That's all there is to it.

"I think they're still mad about that loss. The refs almost gave it back to them with Troy's call (on the interception that wasn't after further review) so they have nothing to cry about."

Keisel also endorsed Foote's "outcoached" theory, giving much of the credit to Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

"I think our game plan going into that last game was much better than the first game," he said, recalling a 26-7 Colts win over the Steelers on Nov. 28 in Indy. "We had some blitzes that they didn't have any answers for, and it showed up.

"Coach LeBeau is a wizard. That's what he does, and that's why he's been in the league as long as he has. We all ride with him. Whatever he calls, we'll run it."

Keisel also found Mudd's challenge for a rematch, "right now," appealing.

"I'll play anyone right now," he said. "Let's just play. Let's get out of Latrobe."

Head coach Bill Cowher, who coached with Mudd in Cleveland (1986-88) and Kansas City (1989-91) under Marty Schottenheimer, didn't mind the idea of another showdown with the Colts.

"If we play again, it'll be in the playoffs," Cowher said. "It'll be do-or-die again, because they're not on our schedule.

"If it happens, it happens."

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