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Steelers say Patriots' manhandling continues

ROGER MILLS
Published October 31, 2004

While all eyes will be on Steelers rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's attempt to snap the Patriots' 21-game win streak, his teammates are doing their best to take some of the scrutiny off him.

Receivers Plaxico Burress and Hines Ward suggested that the 5-yard bump, which officials were asked to watch more closely this season, is being enforced against most teams, except the Patriots.

"It doesn't apply to them, that's for sure," Burress told the Post-Gazette. "They're arm-barring guys out of bounds, Ty Law's pushing guys 10-15 yards downfield, stopping in front of guys and bumping them when they're 20 yards downfield. So, I think it applies to everybody else but them."

The Patriots are largely considered the catalysts for the new point of emphasis after they manhandled Colts receivers in the AFC Championship Game.

"I'm going to send them some cookies or something before the game starts," Ward said, joking.

Burress later tried to be a bit more diplomatic.

"(Winning the Super Bowl) probably has a lot to do with it, but the officials are doing the best job that they can," he said. "Unfortunately for all other teams, they just seem to be missing all the defensive calls on New England."

VINTAGE TALENT: Recently, Bucs coach Jon Gruden was happy to point out that Cardinals running back Emmitt Smith has three 100-yard games, enhancing his claim that older players aren't necessarily washed up.

Well, Gruden will certainly like this: The AFC's top two rushers entering today's games, Priest Holmes (690 yards) and Curtis Martin (683), aren't exactly spring chickens. Holmes is 30, Martin is 31.

Both are on pace to become the second back since Marion Motley (810 yards for the Browns in 1950) to start the season at 30 or older and lead the league in rushing. If either finishes on top, he'll become the oldest rushing leader in league history.

Holmes is on pace for 1,577 yards, Martin for 1,561.

WILL THE REAL ROY PLEASE STAND UP: Today at Texas Stadium, Roy Williams will be in the house. Twice. Cowboys safety Roy Williams, in his third year out of Oklahoma, likely will try to level Lions receiver Roy Williams, a rookie out of Texas.

"He's a great open field tackler, a great hitter," the receiver said of the only time they met in college. "I played against him and I thought he dislocated my jaw. I couldn't close my mouth, that's how hard he hit me."

Information from other news organizations was used in the report.

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