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Come playoffs, Woodley gets sack-happy

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Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011
 

If any player should understand the importance of sacking quarterbacks, it's Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley. He's the only player in NFL history to record at least two sacks in four consecutive playoff games.

Woodley's final sack in Super Bowl XLIII preserved the Steelers' 27-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Woodley dropped Kurt Warner for a 5-yard loss and forced a fumble. Brett Keisel recovered with 5 seconds remaining, and Ben Roethlisberger took a knee to end the game.

"When your number is called, you have to take advantage of it," Woodley said.

Woodley is a pass-rushing specialist with 39 career sacks in 60 regular-season games, placing him 10th on the franchise's all-time list.

He's even more dangerous in the postseason, registering eight sacks in only four career games.

Indianapolis defensive end Dwight Freeney is the only active player with more postseason sacks (nine). Freeney has played in 11 playoff games, seven more than Woodley.

The Steelers host a divisional playoff game Jan. 15 at Heinz Field.

"When we get to the quarterback, it means we're winning," Woodley said. "The year we won the Super Bowl, when we applied pressure, we won."

That theory also holds true in the regular season.

In 11 of their 12 wins, the Steelers recorded at least two sacks. However, the Steelers recorded only one sack in two of their losses, and they didn't record a sack in a loss against New England.

The Steelers led the NFL in sacks this season, with 48. They finished second in the league in sacks when they won the Super Bowl two years ago.

Woodley said the Steelers' strategy is simple. The more pressure the Steelers apply to opposing quarterbacks, the less time there is to complete passes — and the more likely the Steelers are to impose their will.

"When we get to quarterbacks, we want to give them a little something to remind them we'll be back," Woodley said. "It's good when we get sacks. That's what we do best."

The Steelers are famous for showcasing star linebackers such as Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, Andy Russell, Kevin Greene, Greg Lloyd and Joey Porter. Woodley, defensive captain James Farrior, Lawrence Timmons and fellow outside linebacker James Harrison represent the team's newest tandem of playmaking linebackers.

Woodley and Harrison this season became the first tandem in franchise history to record 10 sacks apiece in three consecutive seasons.

"When you think about the Steelers, you think about their linebackers," Woodley said. "When you think about all the great linebackers who have played here, it's great to be mentioned in that group."

Additional Information:

Consistent pressure

LaMarr Woodley's yearly sack total, including playoffs:

2007: 6.0

2008: 17.5

2009: 13.5

2010: 10.0

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