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Old 11-16-2011, 05:53 AM   #1
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Default Week 10: By the Numbers

Week 10: By the Numbers
http://www.timesonline.com/sports/lo...tml?mode=print
Mike Bires mbires@timesonline.com | Posted: Monday, November 14, 2011 7:12 pm

Mike Bires makes some numerical observations in the aftermath of the Steelers' 24-17 win over the Bengals:

7-3: It's a bit early to be printing playoff tickets but the Steelers are in excellent shape to land, at least, a wildcard berth based on previous history. This is the fourth time in Mike Tomlin's five years as coach that the Steelers have started 7-3. Each of those previous 7-3 starts led to playoff berths as AFC North champs (2007, '08 and '10). However, anything can happen on any proverbial given Sunday or Monday. Just ask the Ravens (6-3), who were stunned by the Seahawks (3-6). Except for a Dec. 19 blockbuster on Monday Night Football against the surprising 49ers (8-1), the Steelers will be favored to win their other five remaining games on their schedule.

15-1: Findlay, Ohio, native Ben Roethlisberger grew up 124 miles southwest of Cleveland and 155 miles northeast of Cincinnati. Growing up, however, he was neither a fan of the Browns nor the Bengals. But Roethlisberger sure does enjoy playing in the Buckeye State. Now in his eighth season, Roethlisberger has a 15-1 record on Ohio soil. He's now 8-1 at Paul Brown Stadium, including a wild-card round victory over the Bengals in 2005. Roethlisberger will have to wait until Jan. 1 to improve on his 7-1 record in Cleveland. The Steelers conclude the regular season with a New Year's Day game against the Browns.

1-13: Several Steelers, Roethlisberger included, were impressed by the performance of Andy Dalton. The Bengals' rookie QB had his moments in his first game against Pittsburgh, throwing for two TDs -- one a 36-yard strike to rookie wide receiver A.J. Green in the second quarter and the other a 1-yard toss to tight end Jermaine Gresham in the third quarter that tied the score 17-17. "He seems to be very cerebral. He knows what's going on out there," Roethlisberger said. "He's playing the best out of all the rookie quarterbacks. He makes good throws. (After the game), I told him, ‘We'll see you again in a couple of weeks. But you're playing lights out.'" But as the case for most rookie QBs when they face a Dick LeBeau defense, Dalton didn't make enough throws. After throwing two interceptions in the fourth quarter -- including one deep in Steelers territory -- Dalton was a loser. Since LeBeau returned for his second stint as defensive coordinator in 2004, rookie QBs are just 1-13 against him.

57.4: If Rashard Mendenhall wants to surpass 1,000 rushing yards for the third straight year, he'll have to do better than 57.4 yards per game. That's his average after nine games (he missed the Oct. 9 win over the Titans). Mendenhall currently ranks 26th in the NFL. That's huge drop-off from last year when he was eighth (79.6). Against the Bengals, Mendenhall carried 16 times for 44 yards (2.8 per carry). He now has 517 for the season and needs 483 to reach 1,000. Mendenhall, a first-round pick in 2008, rushed for 1,108 and 1,273 yards the past two years. Although the Steelers have become more of a passing team, Mendenhall may still wind up reaching 1,000. Two of the Steelers' last six games are against the 49ers and Browns, who rank Nos. 1 and 2 in rushing defense. But there are also four games against the Browns (twice), Rams and Chiefs who rank among the NFL's worst teams when it comes to stopping the run.

2: Since the Steelers took him in the fifth round of the 2007 draft, William Gay has played in 74 regular-season games with 28 career starts. He's had a rollercoaster career as evidenced by the fact that after becoming a starter in 2009, he lost his starting job last year. On the bright side, Gay regained his starting job this season partly because Bryant McFadden missed most of training camp with a pulled hamstring. He starts opposite Ike Taylor and then typically moves inside as the slot corner in sub packages on obvious passing downs. Since turning pro, Gay has just two interceptions. His first came on Dec. 14, 2008, late in the fourth quarter to clinch a 13-9 win over Baltimore. Gay's second pick came late Sunday against another AFC North Division rival.
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