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Old 01-02-2011, 09:49 AM   #1
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Default Key matchups: Steelers at Browns

Key matchups: Steelers at Browns
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Saturday January 1, 2010 11:43 PM


The Browns’ chances of upsetting the Steelers will likely come down to quarterback Colt McCoy avoiding the mistakes he made last week in a 20-10 loss at Baltimore. McCoy, a rookie out of Texas, served up three interceptions, including two by Ravens’ star safety Ed Reed.

Today, there’s a 50/50 chance that the Steelers will have their star safety back in the lineup. Troy Polamalu, named Thursday as the Steelers’ MVP, has missed the past two games with a leg injury. But because the Steelers need a win today in order to win the AFC North and earn a first-round playoff bye, Polamalu may be pressed into service. That is not good news for McCoy.

In each of the last three games he played, Polamalu made the game-turning play that allowed the Steelers to win (a late fourth quarter interception in Buffalo; a late fourth-quarter sack and forced fumble in Baltimore; and a pick-six interception return against Cincinnati). Polamalu leads the Steelers with six interceptions.


In his second season as a pro, Mike Wallace has developed into the No. 1 target for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Wallace leads the Steelers in catches (57), receiving yards (1,152) and touchdowns (nine). Last year, Wallace led the NFL with a 19.4-yard per catch average. Going into today’s regular-season finale, he’s second at 20.2 ypc.

After surpassing 100 receiving yards in his last two games, Wallace now has six 100-yard games this season. He needs one more to tie John Stallworth for the Steelers’ single-season record (Stallworth had seven in 1984).
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Today, one of the defensive backs who will try to cover Wallace is rookie Joe Haden. The Browns’ left side cornerback, Haden is in an eight-way tie for second in the NFL with six interceptions. Haden is a former Florida star and ex-teammate of Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey. Both were selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft.


Only two players on the field today at Cleveland Browns Stadium have made the Pro Bowl for four straight years. One of them is James Harrison, the Steelers’ right outside linebacker. The other is Joe Thomas, the Browns’ left tackle. So this promises to be a one-on-one war between two of the best players in the NFL at their respective positions.

Harrison, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2008, leads the Steelers with 10.5 sacks this season. He’s also forced six fumbles and intercepted two passes. Earlier this year when the Steelers played the Browns, Harrison had two sacks, a forced fumble and a hard hit on wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi for which he was fined $75,000. But on Thursday the NFL reduced that fine to $50,000.

Thomas, a former Wisconsin star taken with the third overall pick of the 2007 draft, has started every game for the Browns the past four seasons. In fact, he’s not missed one offensive snap during that span.
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