Opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers

2009 record: 6-3, with victories over Tennessee, San Diego, Detroit, Cleveland, Minnesota and Denver. They’ve lost to Chicago by three points and to Cincinnati twice, by three and six points..

Last year’s record: 12-4, won the AFC North, then beat Baltimore for the AFC Championship and Arizona for the Super Bowl victory in Tampa.

Record for the last five seasons: 64-26, with three division titles and four appearances in the playoffs, including Super Bowl championships for the 2005 and 2008 seasons

Last appearance in the playoffs: in the ’08 season, when they beat San Diego 35-24, then stopped Baltimore 23-14 and won the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl with a 27-23 victory over Arizona.

Head coach: Mike Tomlin is in his third season as only the third head man for the Steelers in 41 seasons. Tomlin’s record is 31-14, with two appearances in the playoffs.

Coordinators: offense, Bruce Arians; defense, Dick LeBeau; special teams, Bob Ligashesky.

Roster overview: the Steelers are built through the draft and always have been.

Of their 22 starters on offense and defense, 17 were Pittsburgh draft picks, including seven first-round selections: NT Casey Hampton (’01), SS Troy Polamalu (’03), QB Ben Roethlisberger (’04), TE Heath Miller (’05), WR Santonio Holmes (’06), LB Lawrence Timmons (’07) and RB Rashard Mendenhall (’08). Of the 53 players on the roster, 31 are Steelers draft picks.

Quarterback: In his sixth NFL season, Ben Roethlisberger already has two Super Bowl rings and he’s become the leader of a team that in the past has been led by defensive player. In 81 games, he has thrown 115 touchdown passes against 77 interceptions. This season, he’s completed 67.8 percent of his 302 passes for 2,469 yards, or 8.2 yards per attempt. He is 65-25 as a starting quarterback.

Offensive threats: Pittsburgh is not quite the running machine they’ve been in the past. Mendenhall is the leader running the ball, with 609 yards on 113 carries. RB Willie Parker is closing out his good career and has seen the ball only 61 times so far. Third RB Mewelde Moore can get things done if needed, not only as a runner but as a receiver. WR Hines Ward remains one of the most reliable catchers and blockers at the position in the league. TE Heath Miller is a solid pair of hands for Roethlisberger to find and Super Bowl MVP WR Santonio Holmes brings speed and the big-play element. The Steelers offensive line is average at best, as Big Ben has been sacked 27 times.

Defensive stars: there are two defensive players wearing black and gold who can change the game in SS Troy Polamalu and OLB James Harrison. Most franchises are lucky to have one of those players in a generation. Polamalu’s knee injury could keep him out of Sunday’s game against the Chiefs. Harrison was the NFL’s defensive player of the year in ’08 with 16 sacks. He already has nine this season in nine games.

Special teamers: K Jeff Reed has been successful kicking in Heinz Field, one of the toughest places in the league to make field goals because of the playing surface and winds. This year he’s 13 of 16 on FGs. Young punter Daniel Sepulveda is an up-and-comer, averaging 44.5 yards a punt. First-year man Stefan Logan is 5-6, 180 pounds and is quick and fearless.

By the numbers: Offensively, the Steelers are ninth in the league in yardage, 17th in rushing and eighth in passing. On defense, Pittsburgh is second in the league in yards allowed and No. 1 against the run, giving up 69.3 yards per game. They are 12th against the pass. Pittsburgh is minus-3 in the turnover ratio.

Top ’09 draft picks: 1st-round choice DE Ziggy Hood has been active for all nine games and has been credited with one tackle. Third-round pick G Kraig Urbik has not yet played. WR Mike Wallace, a third-round choice out of Ole Miss has played in all nine games, started once and caught 26 passes for 453 yards and three TDs. Wallace also has four times for 43 yards.

Familiar faces: LB Keyaron Fox was a Chiefs draft choice (3rd in 2004) who joined the Steelers last year as an unrestricted free agent. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was part of Marty Schottenheimer’s coaching staff in 1989 and for the next three years as the running backs coach.

Comments are closed.

Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.


Other News