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Lawrence Timmons sees himself as a 'game-changer'

Timmons, year-by-year, is getting better, and his clutch performances in 2012 suggest he's on the edge of a monster season in 2013.

Justin K. Aller

Steelers inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons recently told Tribune-Review reporter Ralph N. Paulk he sees himself "as a game-changer."

After 2012, it's hard to argue with him.

A huge overtime interception against Kansas City warded off a potentially huge upset. Another late-game pick against Tennessee nearly staved off the huge upset.

If the Steelers are looking to assign blame for their fourth quarter woes throughout the year, it's hard to single out Timmons. Those two plays mark the lion's share of the team's impact plays late in the game - and they finished 3-5 in games decided by three points or less.

Perhaps he could have come up once against Oakland, a maddeningly frustrating second half defensive performance that saw Carson Palmer march largely unchallenged down the field in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 final quarter points and stealing a late victory.

That was perhaps Timmons' worst game of his best all-around season. Those flashes of inconsistency that have dogged his career were readily apparent.

He obviously knew it. And he responded.

His performance against Philadelphia the following week - nine tackles, two for loss and two quarterback hits - encapsulated a good chunk of the Steelers' defensive highlight film from all of last year. He was quick to diagnose and even quicker to fly to the ball.

It's tough to have games like that every week, but the rest of Timmons' 2012 season was more like Week 5 against the Eagles than it was Week 3 against the Raiders.

If Timmons can finally reach the height of his potential, a mark that's been anticipated with bated breath since Timmons became one of the youngest first round picks in Steelers history, he will be one of the top inside linebackers in the game.

The scary part is, Timmons - who has played seven seasons and just turned 27 years old - is hitting his physical prime. If 2013 is his pinnacle athletically and mentally, the Steelers may have their best inside linebacker since the prime of James Farrior.

It used to be hard to see that happening, and now, it seems more difficult to see it not happening.