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Old 11-21-2010, 12:28 AM   #1
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Default Key Matchups: Week 11

Key Matchups: Week 11

By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Sunday November 21, 2010 12:06 AM

Wallace vs. Asomugha

Is Nnamdi Asomugha the NFL’s best cornerback back or its most overrated?

In each of the past three years, Asomugha has been selected to play in the Pro Bowl. But in each of the past three seasons, he’s had just one interception and he doesn’t have any picks this year. Obviously, the Raiders don’t think Asomugha is overrated. Last year, they made him the highest-paid corner by signing him to a three-year deal worth $45.3 million including $28.5 million in guaranteed money.

If Asomugha plays today — and that’s a big if — Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace will face the stiffest test of his young pro career. Asomugha has been bothered by a sprained ankle. He’s listed as questionable, but Raiders coach Tom Cable said Asomugha’s availability will be a game-time decision.

Wallace, the Steelers’ rookie of the year in ’09, tied Hines Ward and Heath Miller for the team lead last year with six TD catches. So far this year, Wallace has seven TD catches, which is two more than Ward (4) and Miller (1) combined.

Kemoeatu/Pouncey vs. Seymour

Last year when New England traded defensive tackle Richard Seymour to Oakland, it seemed like Patriots coach Bill Belichick pulled a fast one over Al Davis. The Patriots got a first-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft in exchange for a once great athlete with a big salary cap number ($3.685 million last year).

Well, at age 30, Seymour played so well last year that the Raiders put a franchise tag on him this year and are paying him $12.4 million. It’s money well spent. The five-time Pro Bowler is dominating like he did when helping the Patriots win Super Bowls in 2001, ‘04 and ‘05.
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Seymour typically lines up across an opponent’s left guard. When that’s the case today, it’ll be Chris Kemoeatu who’ll have to take on Seymour. But sometimes, Seymour lines up over center or in the center-guard “A gap.” So, there may be times when Steelers rookie center Maurkice Pouncey will have to take on Seymour. Then again, it may take a Pouncey-Kemoeatu double-team to stop Seymour.

Polamlau vs. Miller

Too many times last week, the Steelers had nickel cornerback William Gay matched up against Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. That quickly turned into as Gronkowski beat Gay on two of his three TD passes in the game.

Today, though, don’t be surprised if the responsibilities of Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu include covering Raiders tight end Zach Miller.

Miller, a fourth-year pro, continues to develop as a pass receiver. In his first three seasons, he showed steady improvement with 44, 56 and 66 catches, respectively. This year, he leads the Raiders in receptions (34), receiving yards (461) and TD catches (6).

Because the Raiders won’t likely throw 43 times as the Patriots did last week, the Steelers won’t line up in their nickel defense as often. That means Gay won’t be on the field as much. That could be a good thing for the Steelers defense. Even though Polamalu was limited at practice this week with an Achilles strain, the Steelers are confident he can cover Miller.
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