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Steelers Interviews

Former WR Jerheme Urban Talks Playing the Steelers in Super Bowl XL and XLIII

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With the Steelers hosting the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday, our Ron Lippock caught up with some members of the 2005 Seahawks team that faced the Steelers in Super Bowl XL in Detroit.

Ron Lippock spoke with former Seattle and Arizona wide receiver Jerheme Urban who played against the Steelers in both Super Bowl XL and XLIII. Urban is the current head coach at Trinity University in Texas.

First, as the coach of Trinity – tell me about how that got started and some of your influences as a coach?

I always knew I wanted to coach – it was my dream to play in the NFL since high school and then coach at some point. I just figured it would be at the high school level as a coach-educator. I got my degree in education.

I was never shy or bashful about my interest in coaching. I played for Coach Holmgren and Nolan Cromwell – Nolan did a great job talking to me and working with me about red one and third down routes and why they did what they did while  was on the practice squad. That helped me a lot.

Todd Haley was my wide receivers coach in Dallas and he took me to Arizona and Kansas City. He was influential to me – when I was on IR in 2010 we’d sit and watch film together and when he saw someone mess up he’d yell at me and tell me those were my guys. We laughed about it – I reminded him I wasn’t a coach – I was still a player then!

I had a phenomenal opportunity to work with some Hall of Fame coaches. Parcells and Cromwell had two very different styles on and off the field and I took something from both of them. I also worked with two first time coaches in Haley and Wisenhunt and was able to learn with them on what to do and not to do.

Now, I’ve ascended faster than I thought I would as a head coach. I am fortunate that my school chose vision over experience and hired me as their head coach.

You played the Steelers in two Super Bowls – with Seattle and with Arizona. What stands out most to you about those two games?

Just how well-coached the teams were. Cowher was an experienced coach and his teams always played physical football. We knew it would be an emotional game when I was with Seattle. It was Jerome’s last game in his hometown. And we knew how well the Steelers traveled. We played them at home a year or two before and I was amazed at how many Terrible Towels we saw, despite how much you heard about our 12th man advantage.

In Detroit, we were prepared for that and knew it would be a physical game and that we’d be facing a multiple defense that liked to come after you. But we were confident. We had a Hall of Fame left side of our offensive line and a running back that broke the record at the time for the most touchdowns. We thought we matched up well and it just came down to a couple of big plays.

Contrasted with Arizona…

I joked with Clark Haggans when he came to Arizona. We laughed years later about the Super Bowl and how he had “The best jump ever” on the play where we got the holding call when it was debatable whether Clark was offsides or not.

You brought in a lot of former Steelers to Arizona – how did that help you as a team?

Pittsburgh West, yeah. We had a lot of respect for those guys, My fist touchdown was against Pittsburgh when I played for Arizona. They didn’t talk at you much and always competed hard.  I just remember the play where hey reviewed the touchdown for seemingly forever. When Bryant McFadden came to Arizona we’d talk about the respect I had for the team and how they played with class. We also brought in Kevin Spencer who had a lot of success in Pittsburgh coaching special teams – then Sean Morey too. It added a lot of experience and professionalism to our special teams – that it wasn’t something to be taken any less seriously than any other part of the game. That’s how people made their livelihood.

Who were the guys you lined up against in those games hat you remember most and why?

I was a slot guy and Arizona and Seattle didn’t use the kind of slot receiver you see the media guys cover a lot. I was a bigger, more physical guy. My job was to dig out the safeties and do some of the dirty work. Going against Clark and Polamalu – I’m not sure if those guys would even remember me – they were at another level. But I still have a good picture of Clark tackling me in the Arizona Super Bowl after a catch. With Clark you had to have your head on a swivel. Not just because he’d hit you.  But you had to know when to adjust routes and cut off routes. Everything changed after the snap with Pittsburgh. And going against Troy – one minute he’s in the A-gap then the  next he spins around and is in deep cover-2. He was everywhere.

What do you think you could have done better as a team in Seattle to beat Pittsburgh?

I think we let the reputation of Pittsburgh’s Steel Curtain defense and our frustration get the best of us. Darrell Jackson set the record for most receptions in the first quarter – but then we got a couple of penalties and we let our emotions get the best of us. We changed our game plan because of those to a degree. Just look at the sequence of the game. We complete a pass to the one yard line to Stevens but get the penalty. The next play we throw an interception that gets picked off in the seam, then Matt got flagged for trying to dive between two defenders blocking him to try and make the tackle, adding to the return and frustration. Then the great call for the big touchdown pass to Ward.

How about in Arizona?

In Arizona, we got to the Super Bowl by throwing the ball with Kurt. The coaches were wary of the blitzing schemes and pass rush of LeBeau, and they started off instead with more 12-personnel and tried to get Edgerrin James more involved. We got back to having success when we went back to four-wide and let Kurt throw the ball. The beauty of Kurt was he go rid of the ball fast – it was hard for the pass rush to get to him. We were just too conservative early on.

I also use that game now as a coach to teach discipline. The last play of the first half – the touchdown return by Harrison was a result of poor discipline on our part in two ways.

First, the receivers were far too tight in their splits. The throwing lane was condensed allowing Harrison to make that interception. Second – we lost our sideline discipline. All of our guys were on the sideline and Fitzgerald couldn’t get to Harrison – he had to run around his own guys to get to him. If he tackled him sooner it’s not s touchdown – that’s seven pints off the board.

What do you think of this year’s games against both teams?

It’s hard to have a real rivalry with teams you don’t play a lot so neither re probably rivals in the true sense. Outside of ownership, in Seattle probably no one was there for the Super Bowl.

The Seattle game should be a much better game, at last on paper. Arizona has a rookie quarterback so you don’t know how that’s going to go. Pittsburgh still has that speed on the outside on defense, and on offense, it will be interesting to see how those receivers get open in man coverage.

Ron Lippock is the author of Steelers Takeaways and has interviewed over 650 past and present Steelers players, coaches and personnel. You can purchase his book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Steelers-Takeaways-Memories-Through-Decades/dp/1681570076

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