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12-10-2009, 07:47 AM
Game 13: Five Questions
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By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times
Thursday December 10, 2009 12:00 AM

Who can achieve personal milestones tonight?

Rashard Mendenhall, the Steelers’ first-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, needs 113 rushing yards to reach the 1,000-yard plateau. Mendenhall only rushed for 62 against the Browns earlier this season. But in five Steelers-Browns games before that, Willie Parker rushed for 658 yards, an average of 131.6 per game. The Browns rank 29th in the league in rushing defense (154.2 ypg), so there’s a good chance Mendenhall will get his 113. Meanwhile, WR Santonio Holmes needs just 13 receiving yards to surpass 1,000 for the season for the first time in his four-year career. Holmes, a first-round pick in the ’06 draft, averages 15.4 yards per catch this year and could surpass 1,000 yards the first time he touches the ball. Holmes’ previous high was 945 yards in ‘07.

How many starters do the Browns have on injured reserve?

The Browns have 11 players on the season-ending IR lIst, including six starters. That list includes RB Jamal Lewis, LBs D’Qwell Jackson and Eric Barton, S Brodney Poole, NT Shaun Rogers and TE Steve Heiden. Even Dave Zastudil, the Browns’ punter the past four years, is on IR. By comparison, the Steelers only have four players on IR, including two first stringers: DE Aaron Smith and G Darnell Stapleton.

How rare is it for the Steelers to be riding a four-game losing streak?

Since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970, only six times have the Steelers lost as many as four straight. Those dubious streaks came in 1988 when the Steelers lost six in a row; 1991; 1998 when they lost five straight; 1999 when they lost six straight; 2003 when they lost five straight; and this year. In those years, the Steelers finished 5-11, 7-9, 7-9, 6-10 and 6-10, respectively.
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What’s the weather forecast for tonight?

According to the Weather Channel, the Steelers and Browns will play in the coldest conditions to date in the 59-year “Turnpike Rivalry.” It’s expected to be 19 degrees at kickoff with a 60-percent chance of snow. The wind chill factor will make it feel like its zero. The coldest Steelers-Browns game was Dec. 18, 1983, at Municipal Stadium when the temperature dipped to 20 degrees during a Browns 30-17 win.

Why was John “Big Dawg” Thompson in the news this year?

Thompson, who’s regarded as the “Canine in Chief” in the Browns’ infamous “Dawg Pound” cheering section, made headlines in Cleveland in August when he was arrested for DUI. He spent three days in jail. Then in October, he sued Electronic Arts because his likeness was used in the Madden ’09 video game without his consent. “Big Dawg” was seeking in excess of $25,000 in damages. The case was eventually dismissed, leading to speculation that Thompson received a settlement from EA. Thompson, who legally changed his name years ago to include “Big Dawg,” is easily the most famous of the “Dawg Pound” regulars. He’s the big man who wears a dog mask and a Browns’ No. 98 jersey.

Mike Bires

12-10-2009, 01:11 PM
It will be nice to see Holmes and Mendenhall break the 1,000 yard barrier.