|Antonio Cromartie is ready for the Steelers. (AP photo)|
The city of Pittsburgh loves Ward - he is everyone's favorite player. I experienced it first-hand in my two trips to the city. The first time me and my brothers found ourselves in a bar telling each how much we hate Ward, only to find out in a short time we were actually in an establishment owned by Ward himself. In our last trip for Jets-Steelers a few weeks ago, we were talking about Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis covering Ward on one early play while in the stands at Heinz Field. We said Revis shouldn't be wasted by covering the overrated receiver. Craig simply said Ward was "garbage." Later, when Ward finally made a catch, I think he had two on the day for nothing, one of the Steelers fans in front of us looked back and said, "garbage, huh?" We basically just look at each other and said, "yeah, garbage."
But the fact is Ward is all over Pittsburgh, both with his business and in the hearts of fans. So, Ward gets a pass from everyone in the city for being an average receiver. He's also gotten away with being a dirty player to the average fan. Ward's MO is basically hitting players when they aren't looking. He's gotten a free ride ... until now.
Here's what Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie said about Ward cheap-shotting opponents: "Just tell [him] if he does it again you're going to kick his ass." Friday on SNY, Cromartie said Ward wasn't "man enough" to go after players face-to-face.
Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said the Jets refer to Ward as "the toughest player in the league ... when no one's looking."
Jets safety James Ihedigbo is looking to make Ward pay with an early, legal hit: "We're going to deal with him early so he knows what type of game it's going to be, and that none of that stuff is being tolerated." When asked if that meant a big-time hit, Ihedigbo said, "hell yeah."
Jets safety Eric Smith isn't happy with the way Ward goes about business on the field, either, making this an interesting subplot to the AFC Championship game. Everyone should remember what happened with Patriots receiver Wes Welker last week after he insulted Rex Ryan prior to the game. He was a non-factor after the Jets defense said he was now a target of their rage.
The Jets don't need any extra motivation to beat the Steelers Sunday, as just one win stands between them and the Super Bowl. But as we all saw with the Patriots game, a little anger and rage goes a long way. Jets-Steelers Sunday night? Can't Wait!