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Old 12-26-2006, 11:05 PM   #1
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Default Steelers Notebook: 12/27/06

Steelers Notebook: Starks, Clark will not face Bengals
Wednesday, December 27, 2006

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Offensive tackle Max Starks and free safety Ryan Clark will not play Sunday when the Steelers conclude their disappointing season in Cincinnati at 1 p.m.

Starks is out with a knee injury and Clark with a groin injury.

Also, linebacker Clark Haggans is doubtful with an MCL knee sprain, and his backup, James Harrison, is questionable with a shoulder injury. If neither Haggans nor Harrison can play, the Steelers could be in trouble. Those two and starter Joey Porter are the only outside linebackers on their depth chart.

Six players are probable for the game --safety Andre Lott (ankle), linebacker Clint Kriewaldt (neck), quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder), cornerback Deshea Townsend (hand), center Jeff Hartings (knee), safety Troy Polamalu (knee).

The spoiler's role

The Steelers can knock the Bengals out of playoff contention Sunday in Cincinnati, much the same way Baltimore did to them last Sunday.

"Let me just say this, misery loves company," coach Bill Cowher said. "We're looking for company."

The Bengals must beat the Steelers, but also get help to make the playoffs the year after they won the AFC North Division. They would make it if the New York Jets lost. If the Jets win, the Bengals would need Denver to lose and Kansas City to win.

A Steelers victory Sunday would leave them and the Bengals tied for second place in the division at 8-8. They tied last season at 11-5, but the Bengals won the tiebreaker to claim the division title.

"I know they still mathematically are in it," Cowher said. "Our goal is to go down there and get this taste out of our mouth and, more importantly, finish the season at 8-8. We'll do that. Playing Cincinnati with a game like that, there's a lot at stake, just pride-wise. It's always been like that."

Another start for Colon

Willie Colon will make his second NFL start at right tackle with Starks out. Cowher gave the rookie a lukewarm review on his debut against the Ravens.

"He did OK at times. I thought he did better as the game went on. It's like anything, kind of like I said last week. You can watch film and see it on the practice field, but, until you get into the game and have to apply it at game speed in a very short period of time, then you get acclimated to it."

All negatives

New AFC North champ Baltimore, which is 12-3 after going 6-10 last season, roughed up the Steelers in two games by a 58-7 count, which more than surprised Cowher.

"Surprised and disappointed," he said. "I thought this past game we played better, but not to the extent of ... we were down, 14-7, and you come out with a chance to get back into the game and we give up the drive."

The Ravens extended their lead to 21-7 by scoring on the opening drive of the second half.

"We were just fighting an uphill battle," Cowher said. "There's nothing more you can really say about it. They clearly outplayed us in both games."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06361/749131-66.stm
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Old 12-26-2006, 11:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers Notebook: 12/27/06

Steelers thin at OLB

By The Tribune-Review
Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Steelers could have depth issues at outside linebacker Sunday.

Clark Haggans, who starts opposite Joey Porter, is listed as doubtful for the 1 p.m. game at Cincinnati because of a medial collateral ligament sprain in his knee. James Harrison, who would likely start at outside linebacker if Haggans is unable to go, is questionable with a shoulder problem.

The Steelers are already thin at outside linebacker, having lost Chad Brown to a season-ending knee injury in the Carolina game. Haggans was hurt in the second quarter of last Sunday's game against the Ravens but returned in the second half. He said after the game he didn't know when or how he hurt his knee.

• Safety Ryan Clark (groin) and right tackle Max Starks (knee) won't play against the Bengals. A handful of players are probable for the game, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder), center Jeff Hartings (knee), safety Troy Polamalu (knee), cornerback Deshea Townsend (knee), linebacker Clint Kriewaldt (neck) and safety Andre Lott (ankle).

• After the Steelers' loss Sunday, inside linebacker Larry Foote said, "Hopefully we don't have to live with 'If we had won this game, we would have gotten in (the playoffs).' "

That is probably the one thing the Steelers won't have to feel bad about in regard to their 31-7 loss to the Ravens. Even if the Steelers had beaten Baltimore and then knocked off Cincinnati, they would have finished the season with nine wins. It is likely a pair of 10-win teams will claim the two wild-card spots in the AFC. The Jets improved to 9-6 with a win over the Dolphins on Monday night, and they finish the season against the 2-13 Raiders at home. The Broncos are also 9-6 and also conclude their season with a home game against a team with a losing record (the 6-9 49ers). The Steelers' game might have been moved to 8:15 p.m. if the Bengals (8-7) had more than just an outside shot to make the playoffs. Instead, NBC picked the Packers-Bears game for its national broadcast.

• Steelers coach Bill Cowher didn't exactly give right tackle Willie Colon a glowing review two days after the rookie made his first NFL start.

"He did OK at times," Cowher said. "I thought he got better as the game went on."

There wasn't much to say, at least positive, about any of the Steelers in either game against the Ravens this season. The Steelers lost the games by a combined score of 58-7 and were swept by the Ravens for the first time.

"Surprised and disappointed," Cowher said of the way Baltimore dominated his team. "They really outplayed us in both games."

Digits

5.97 - Average yards the Bengals give up on first down, third-worst in the NFL.

11 - Receiving yards Cincinnati's Chad Johnson had against the Steelers the first time the teams played.

1,316 - Johnson's receiving yards this season, the most in the NFL.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_485863.html
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