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09-26-2010, 09:39 AM
Week 3: Key Matchups
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Harrison vs. Penn

Every week, it’s an adventure for any left tackle assigned to block James Harrison, the Steelers’ menacing right outside linebacker. Certainly Tennessee’s Dave “Big Country” Stewart couldn’t handle Harrison, who earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance in last week’s 19-11 win over the Titans.

Harrison had 10 solo tackles and two sacks, each resulting in a fumble the Steelers recovered. On one of those sacks, it wasn’t Stewart who was victimized by Harrison. It was running back Chris Johnson, who was no match for Harrison and offered little resistance.

This week, it’s Tampa’s Doug Penn who’ll try to slow down Harrison, who’s been to three straight Pro Bowls.

“Let me tell you, you can’t trust anybody to handle James Harrison. He’s a trained assassin,” Bucs coach Raheem Morris. “I don’t like using those terms but that’s what he is out there on the football field.”

Polamalu vs. Winslow

As he proved last week in the win at Tennessee, Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu makes plays all over the field. His end-zone interception ended a Titans’ scoring threat. Twice, he was in on tackles that stopped running back Chris Johnson for a loss of 1 yard. He blitzed at least one. And in the fourth quarter, he made an amazing tackle of Kerry Collins on a quarterback sneak. Polamalu leaped over the line of scrimmage to nail Collins for a 1-yard loss.

Today, some of Polamalu’s duties will be to stop tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., who leads the Bucs with eight catches for 115 yards.

Winslow, Cleveland’s first-round pick in the 2004 draft, has never quite lived up to the hype. At least he didn’t when he played for the Browns. But now that he’s in his second season with the Bucs, the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow seems like he has a new lease on life.

Ward vs. Barber

Ronde Barber might not be guarding Hines Ward on every snap today. But these two aging war horses will go at it one-on-one plenty of times in an intriguing cornerback vs. wide receiver duel.

Barber, who’s 35, is in his 14th season with the Buccaneers. Today, he makes his 170th consecutive start, which is just one shy of the NFL record. Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau holds the record with 171 straight starts. Already this season, Barber has two interceptions.

Ward, who’s 34, and in his 13th season with the Steelers, has caught at least one pass in 180 straight games. That’s the fifth-longest streak in NFL history. Ward opened the season with six catches for 108 yards in a win over Atlanta. But last week against Tennessee, he was held to just one catch for 9 yards. Mike Bires