Hard Hat Award (AFCC, vs. Balt.)
Stillers SS Troy Polamalu is the winner of the weekly Hard Hat Award, given to the Stiller player who best embodies the iron-tough, hard-as-steel attitude of the steel workers inside the blast furnace of a still mill.
Pola came into this game with an injured calf as well as the non-stop media adulation over Balt safety Fred Reed. All Pola did was respond with one of the very best individual defensive efforts in the entire history of Steeler playoff football, single-handedly making 1 big play after another to lead the way to victory. This wasn�t merely a �good game� by Pola; it was a stupendous one. Big games are won when big-time players step up, under pressure, and deliver. That is precisely what Pola did, and he delivered in a fearless, never say die, controlled abandon style that has rarely, if ever, been seen by a Stiller defender in a playoff game during the past 25 years.
Having seen the game live, and then on tape, I felt, along with The Committee, that this was undoubtedly one of the greatest individual playoff efforts in the history of Pittsburgh sports. Not merely Stiller football, but all of
Others receiving consideration by The Committee were LeMarr Woodley, who played very stoutly against the run while also harassing QB Joe Jacco all game long; QB Ben Roethlisberger, who absorbed some punishing hits but kept coming back in a fearless manner; LB Jamie Harrison, who pressured & harassed Jacco into 2 INTs; FB/spec teamer Carey Davis, who set the tone for the game when he obliterated a Raven KO coverage man with a crushing block, and chipped in with a good stop in punt coverage in the 2Q as well as a 20 yard catch n� run on 3d & 6 that netted 20; and TE Heath Miller, who had 3 big RACs to go along with an incredible hustle play in which he picked up a blitzer, then dashed downfield and escorted Tonio into the EZ on the 65-yard TD jaunt.
It bears repeating that there is almost always -- if not always -- a strong correlation between the number of players in consideration for the Hard Hat, and if the team won or lost. Simply put, Hard Hat kind of football leads to victory; pansy football (a term used here long before Troy Pola popularized it) leads to defeat.
Previous 2008 Hard Hat Winners:
Week 1, vs.
Week 2, @ Clev: Keyaron Fox and Jamie Harrison
Week 3, @ Phil:
Week 4, vs. Balt: Jamie Harrison and LeMarr Woodley
Week 5, @ Jax: Ben Roethlisberger
Week 6, @ Cinci: Mewelde Moore
Week 7, vs. NY Giants: Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel
Week 8, @ Skins: Byron Leftwich and Jared Retkofsky
Week 9, vs. Colts: Jamie Harrison
Week 10, vs. Chargers: Jamie Harrison and Gary Russell
Week 11, vs. Bengals: Aaron Smith
Week 12, @ NE Pats: Jamie Harrison
Week 13, vs.
Week 14, @ Ravens: Hines Ward
Week 15, @ Titans: No one
Week 16, vs. Clev: Gary Russell
AFC Div Playoffs, vs. SD: Willie Parker and Brett Keisel