By John Harris
Did somebody get the number of that truck?
Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons sped through an opening in the middle of the line so fast Thursday night that Buffalo quarterback Matt Baker didn't know who -- or what -- hit him.
Baker's pass fell short of intended receiver Justin Jenkins in the fourth quarter of the Steelers' 24-21 loss to the Bills. Probably had something to do with Timmons blowing up the play -- along with Baker.
It was the type of hit Timmons has been waiting to make since joining the Steelers as a first-round draft pick last season.
It's a hit Timmons can feel all the way down to his toes, while ensuring that his target plays the rest of the game with his head on a swivel.
But no more than the Steelers have been waiting for Timmons to deliver.
"Everybody's got to love that," said Timmons, speaking about having the opportunity to do what he does best on the football field -- seek and destroy. "I always try to get to the ball. I always try to make that a facet of my game."
For good measure, Timmons sacked another Bills quarterback, J.P. Losman, for an eight-yard loss. Timmons also defended a pair of screen passes about as well as you could ask from a young linebacker while also leading the Steelers with seven tackles.
"From last year to this year, it's been 180 degrees," linebacker James Harrison said of Timmons' development. "He's getting a little bit of what we call 'That dog.' He's starting to feel himself, and that comes from knowing what you're doing."
Harrison took Timmons under his wing as the two worked out together in the offseason. Upon getting to know each other better, Timmons loosened up and starting speaking his mind.
"He asks a lot more questions now than he did last year. He was quiet last year," Harrison said.
Said Timmons: "Having a year under your shoulder pads, that's a great advantage. This is a complex defense. It's different when you're running and you don't know what to do like a chicken with its head off. When you know what you can do and you're comfortable, you can play faster because you know where to be."
In one of the great upsets of the Steelers preseason, Timmons spoke expansively to reporters following the loss in Toronto. In Timmons' case, his "soliloquy" translated to offering more than one-word sound bites.
After drawing oohs and aahs from fans for his big hits, he stood tall in front of his locker and answered questions without a frown.
The soft-spoken and normally reclusive Timmons treated interviews last season like he was undergoing a root canal.
He also battled a nagging groin injury that limited his playing time. Finally healthy, he's showing off his expansive playmaking skills.
Timmons respects his elders, such as Harrison, James Farrior and Larry Foote, his main competition at right inside linebacker. After Thursday's game, coach Mike Tomlin said no decision has been made on who will start.
At the same time, Timmons' play of late is going to make it difficult for Tomlin to keep him out of the starting lineup much longer.