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Steady on his feet, Steelers' Ward shines

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011
 

As tough and gritty as they come in the NFL, Hines Ward is a throwback to a classic era of football known for leather helmets, bloody knuckles and knock-'em-flat hits.

Turns out the Steelers receiver is a smash as a classical dancer, too.

In Week 4 of "Dancing With the Stars" -- dubbed Classical Week -- Ward and partner, Kym Johnson, earned their second straight score of 25 (out of a possible 30) for their smooth Paso Doble routine Monday night. The pair received a nine from judge Carrie Ann Inaba and eights from Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli, with their total placing them in second for the night, one point behind the duo of Disney star Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas.

"You are the most determined of all of our celebrities," Goodman said. "You come out every week 100 percent. Keep it up. This competition, the longer it goes, the tougher it gets. Work hard because you are really doing great."

Upon ending their performance -- one punctuated with pyrotechnics throughout -- Ward and Johnson garnered a standing ovation from the crowd, including Ward's Terrible Towel-waving Steeler teammates James Farrior, James Harrison and Max Starks.

But the crowd turned to boos when the pair's scores came in, seemingly expecting higher marks from Goodman and Tonioli.

"You were in the zone, my friend," Inaba said. "You nailed it."

Not unlike Ward's comments before his Week 2 Quickstep routine, the Super Bowl XL MVP expressed some reservations in practice for the paso doble -- Spanish for "two step" -- as shown in an introductory clip. Saying he succeeded in previous weeks by timing his steps to lyrics, Ward thought dancing to a live orchestra would provide a challenge.

There weren't any false steps once he hit the stage.

"It was very tough," Ward said in his post-dance interview with Brooke Burke. "I had never listened to classical music before, but it was awesome."

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