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Old 10-18-2009, 12:12 AM   #1
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Default Week 6: Steelers Key Matchup

Week 6: Steelers Key Matchup
By The Tribune-Review

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Steelers LB James Harrison vs. Cleveland LT Joe Thomas


After a slow start, the reigning NFL Defensive MVP appears back on track of his record-setting season a year ago when he led the AFC with 16 sacks. Harrison found it tough getting to the quarterback through the first two games. Part of the reason was because he was being held by the opposition, and the team game planning against him. Harrison didn't have a sack through the first two games and he was credited with only three pressures. All of that changed over the past three weeks. Harrison has six sacks, three of which came in the first half against the Lions a week ago, and he has been able to put a lot more pressure on the quarterback (10).


Drafted third overall in the 2007 NFL Draft, Thomas has played every snap for the Browns over his career. Ranked as one of the top five left tackles in the league, Thomas has made the past two Pro Bowls, despite playing for a team that has a 15-22 record during that span. The Browns allowed only 17 sacks a year ago and nine through five games this season. Thomas is strong at the point of attack with his size (6-6, 312). Cleveland ran the ball well last week, rushing for 171 yards against the Bills, with most of those yards coming over the left side.


The two went head-to-head three times, with Thomas getting the best of Harrison on the stat sheet. Harrison managed only a half sack in their three matchups, but the Steelers have won all three meetings. The Browns will be able to afford to move a tight end on Thomas' side with the loss of Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith. The Browns won't have to help out as much on the other side, affording the ability to move a tight end over to Thomas' side to help out with Harrison. Don't expect Harrison to lineup over Thomas all game. Dick LeBeau has been bringing him on blitzes from different angles to create matchup problems. Quick fact: Harrison has twice before collected at least three sacks in a game as he did last week. The following week, he was held sackless.

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