The Pittsburgh Steelers are a tough team. They are physical. They are eager to use that asset. And they have a well-deserved reputation for being the baddest dudes on the block going back to the days of the Steel Curtain.
The Dolphins, in case you have not heard, also fancy themselves a physical team. And so when these two lovers of violent football get together ...
"I think anytime you play against the Steelers you know it’s going to be a physical contest," coach Tony Sparano said. "They make no bones about it. I think that from our end we feel like we’re a physical football team, so it’s going to be a physical game.”
Believe it or not, that is the politically correct way to portray it. Running back Ronnie Brown has another way. He sees the Steelers as a bully. And he thinks there's only one way to deal with bullies.
"When you have bully on the school yard, he thinks he's the baddest," Brown said. "Therefore he's going to carry himself like he's the baddest. He feels that way, so therefore he's going to act like he's the baddest. That's how it is with the Pittsburgh defense. They think that way, they act that way. That's how it is until someone proves them differently. That's how it is."
And just because Brown plays running back and it is part of his job description to take blows, that doesn't mean Brown intends to let Pittsburgh bully him.
"You have to accept that challenge," he said. "As an offensive player, I come in with a defensive mentality. Just because I'm a running back doesn't mean I can't be an aggressor with the football.
"Until you stand up to the bully he's going to keep picking on you and if he feels he's found a weak spot, you're going to have to deal with that every day. If you show up and show him you're not scared, then it goes away. But until you do that, you're going to get the same result. So why not attack it full head on?"
The last time these two teams played -- in the 2009 regular-season finale -- the Dolphins didn't stand up to well against the bully. Quarterback Chad Henne had to leave the game with vision problems. Backup quarterback Pat White came in and lasted less than one quarter before he literally got knocked out.
"Last year you know it took us three quarterbacks to get through the game and hopefully that won’t happen this game," Henne said. "But, we’re going to have to protect, we’re going to have to keep it balanced, we’re going to have to run the football, and protect me in the passing game.”
Like Brown, Henne says he's not afraid, concerned, or sweating the physical nature of the Steelers, particularly on defense.
“No, I mean I’m just going to go out there and play my game and I’m not going to let anything affect me," he said. "I’m not going to stare at the rush a little bit more. I’m just going to go through my progressions, know what I’m doing what I’m doing back there and you know if I get hit I get hit. That’s part of the game.”
Talking to several Dolphins players, one gets the idea the Dolphins have a little to prove to the Steelers. One gets the idea they intend on standing toe-to-toe with their Pittsburgh counterparts.
"They're going to keep grinding and you have to match that intensity," Brown said. "Coming into the game week, your whole mental process has to be ready for that. That's the good part of this game. they're going to present challenges. And you have to take advantage of that. You have to take each blow when they get their chance. And when you get your chance your have to take your shot.
"I'm not going to say they go out and try to hurt people. But they do try to strike some kind of fear. And if you buy into that, it is what it is. But if you don't and you go out and fight, that's what it's going to be. It'll be a fight."
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