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Old 11-27-2011, 09:44 AM   #1
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Default Steelers vs. Chiefs: Key matchups

Steelers vs. Chiefs: Key matchups
By Mike Bires mbires@timesonline.com | Posted: Saturday, November 26, 2011 9:30 pm


Last week when he started a game for the first time since 2006 when he played at Pitt, Tyler Palko had the daunting challenge of facing the mighty Patriots on their home turf. Tonight, it gets even more difficult for Palko as he faces the Steelers and their second-ranked defense.

“I’d imagine that every player that plays that position in this league has a gory story about how it started for them. That’s just the nature of this game at that position,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.

Well, not every young NFL quarterback has “gory” memories of his first start. Ben Roethlisberger, for example, led the Steelers to a 13-3 win over the Dolphins in rain-soaked Miami in September of 2004. But Tomlin’s point is well taken. For most QBs, that first start can be intimidating.

Palko, a graduate of West Allegheny High School where his dad Bob coaches the football team, hopes to avoid another gory experience. He had some moments in the Chiefs’ 34-3 loss to the Patriots when he replaced injured starter Matt Cassel. He completed 25 of 38 throws for 236 yards but was sacked three times and threw three interceptions.

“I think I will feel a little bit more comfortable this week, but I can’t answer that question, obviously until after the game,” said Palko, 28. “All in all, last week I felt pretty comfortable in the pocket. It was just a couple of plays that I would like to have back.”

It would behoove Palko to play well against the Steelers. On Wednesday, the Chiefs signed veteran Kyle Orton after he was cut by the Denver Broncos. By no means is Orton an upper echelon QB. His record as a starter is only 32-34. But he does have 66 starts, which is 65 more than Palko.

“I’m fired up,” Palko said. “It was fun growing up in Pittsburgh, seeing the Steelers, the black and gold, understanding the tradition. It’s exciting and I’m looking forward to it.”


When a team has a franchise quarterback, protecting him is paramount. That will be especially true for the Steelers now that Ben Roethlisberger, who’s been sacked a league-high 31 times, is playing with a broken thumb on his right throwing hand.

For the time being, Roethlisberger will play with a protective splint on his injured thumb. He’s going to experience some pain and discomfort. But the goal now is to make sure the injury doesn’t get worse. The Steelers feel so fortunate that Roethlisberger’s injury wasn’t as severe as the broken thumb that ended the season for Bears QB Jay Cutler last week.

So with the Steelers wanting to keep Roethlisberger and his sore thumb out of harm’s way, there’s added significance to Max Stark’s assignment. As the Steelers’ left tackle, he’ll line up most of tonight’s game across from Tamba Hali, the Chiefs’ right outside linebacker. The Chiefs rank last in the NFL with only 12 sacks but Hali, the former Penn State star, has seven of them.

The Chiefs’ first-round pick in 2006, Hali ranked second in the league last year with 14.5 and has 48.5 for his career.

“As a pass rusher, I watch every pass rusher,” Miami defensive end Jason Taylor told kcchiefs.com three weeks ago before the Dolphins beat the Chiefs. “You learn from everybody a little bit, but I watch guys more as a fan and admire the work they do and the way they do it. It’s like a work of art to watch a good pass rusher do his thing. Tamba is definitely one of the tops in this league. Coming from a guy who used to do it pretty well, he’s in the top-five for sure.”

Taylor, a former WPIAL star who attended Woodland Hills High School, does know a thing or two about sacking QBs. He’s eighth on the NFL’s all-time sack list with 136.5.
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Old 11-27-2011, 05:11 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers vs. Chiefs: Key matchups

Starks can hold off Hali. Hali is good but Starks shut down Suggs last game and has done well against everybody he's gone against for the most part. Palco or any QB the Chiefs have would struggle against our D, is Palco starting this game?
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