Notebook: Steelers' Smith receives teammates' support
• Safety Anthony Smith had plenty of supporters in the Steelers' locker room after their 34-13 loss to the Patriots -- and after his previous guarantee of a victory over New England made him an easy scapegoat for the defeat. "The guarantee comment, I don't have a problem with it," said wide receiver Hines Ward, who is one of the Steelers' captains. "We didn't lose a game because he made a guarantee comment. We lost the game because they executed better than we did." Smith didn't play one of his better games. He was victimized on two long pass plays that went for touchdowns, though the defensive backs struggled as a unit against Tom Brady and Co. "When you play the best team in the NFL, you definitely don't need to give them bulletin-board stuff to feed off of," Ward said. "That wasn't the reason we lost the game."
• One encouraging thing the Steelers were able to take from their loss to the Patriots was the success Willie Parker had running the ball. Parker, who had been held under 100 rushing yards in the Steelers' previous three games, rushed for 124 yards and averaged a robust 5.9 yards per carry. The 5-foot-10, 209-pounder said he was more decisive running the ball against New England than he had been in previous games. "I was just out there running hard," Parker said, "just seeing stuff and hitting it." Parker reclaimed the NFL rushing lead. He has 1,217 rushing yards, compared to Minnesota rookie Adrian Peterson's 1,200. Parker is trying to become the first Steeler to lead the NFL in rushing since 1946, when "Bullet" Bill Dudley accomplished the feat.
• Linebacker Marquis Cooper was claimed off waivers from the Jacksonville Jaguars, this week's opponent, and added to the Steelers' active roster. Second-year center Marvin Philip was released to make room for Cooper on the roster. The Steelers released Cooper earlier this year, and he played in one game for the Jaguars. With the Steelers, he played in two games before being released Nov. 25. Two days later, he was signed by the Jaguars.
26 - Touchdown passes by Ben Roethlisberger this season.
28 - Steelers' record for touchdown passes in a season, set by Terry Bradshaw in 1978.
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