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Pittsburgh Steelers

Stadium: Heinz Field | Coach: Mike Tomlin
Team RankingOverallRushingPassing
Offense19th86.4 (26th)251.1 (10th)
Defense13th115.6 (18th)221.6 (10th)

Steelers report: Strategy and personnel

The Sports Xchange
 
Inside slant · Strategy and personnel · Notes, quotes
 

PLAYER NOTES

--QB Byron Leftwich finally played in his first game of the regular season when he mopped up for 1 1/2 quarters in Cleveland last Sunday. Roethlisberger's backup completed 5 of 7 passes for 42 yards and was sacked twice.

--RB Mewelde Moore did not practice on Tuesday after missing his first game of the season last Sunday. He has a sprained knee.

--RB Rashard Mendenhall became the first back to lead the Steelers in scoring since Franco Harris in 1977. Mendenhall rushed for 13 touchdowns, one short of the record set by Harris in 1976.

--TE Heath Miller, who missed two games with a concussion, finished with 42 receptions, far off his total last season when he set a team record for the position with 76 catches.

--LB LaMarr Woodley missed a third straight double-digit sack season finishing with 9.5, one behind James Harrison's team lead.

--WR Mike Wallace, who did not make the Pro Bowl, led the NFL with seven 100-yard receiving games. His 1,257 yards were third most in the AFC. He also caught 10 TD passes.

--WR Hines Ward's five touchdown catches were his fewest since he had four in 2004. He failed to lead the team in receptions for the first time since he led them in his second season, 1999.

--SS Troy Polamalu, who led the team with seven interceptions, did not practice on Tuesday and is not expected to until next week. He has an Achilles-related injury but came out of Sunday's game with no further damage.

--CB Bryant McFadden did not practice on Tuesday. He has an abdominal strain that caused him to leave the finale early in Cleveland. William Gay replaced him.

--DE Aaron Smith did not practice on Tuesday and is not expected to play in the opening playoff game Jan. 15. He has been out since his triceps were torn Oct. 24.

--C Maurkice Pouncey returned to practice Tuesday, showing no ill effects of a hit on the head he took, forcing him out of the game in the third quarter Sunday.

--LB Lawrence Timmons led the Steelers in both solo tackles with 100 and total tackles with 149, ending a four-year reign by James Farrior.

--WR Antwaan Randle El did not catch a touchdown pass in 2010 but he did throw two, the first time he has thrown two in a career in which he has thrown six TDs in the regular season and one in a Super Bowl.

REPORT CARD VS. BROWNS

PASSING OFFENSE
A -- Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers passing attack had its best outing of the season, a near perfect performance. Roethlisberger completed his first pass on the first play for a 56-yard touchdown to Mike Wallace. He went on to go 15 of 22 for 280 yards, two TDs and a 141.3 passer rating with no sacks, no interceptions. Antwaan Randle El chipped in with his second TD pass of the season and Byron Leftwich went 5 of 7 for 42 yards. They finished with 325 yards; had they wanted, they could have put up 500.

RUSHING OFFENSE
C -- This area continues to be one of disappointment as Pittsburgh enters the playoffs. The Steelers increased their total yards this season but still cannot run consistently, particularly in short yardage. They had 100 yards on 30 carries with Rashard Mendenhall getting 36 on 14 carries, although he did score two TDs on 1-yard runs.

PASS DEFENSE
A -- Colt McCoy was 20 of 41 for 209 yards and effective on a few drives. However, he was intercepted three times all in the first half, sacked four times, had a passer rating of 41.6 and his lone TD pass came against a defense of second-stringers in the fourth quarter.

RUSH DEFENSE
A -- The Browns didn't try hard against a Steelers run defense that set a franchise record in yards allowed. Cleveland ran 17 times for 43 yards with McCoy the actual leader of the pack because he scrambled four times for 19 yards, five more than Mike Bell and six more than Peyton Hills. The Browns never had a chance on the ground.

SPECIAL TEAMS
A -- Rather than kick off to Joshua Cribbs the Steelers had Shaun Suisham squib kick and it worked with great results. The Browns returned eight kickoffs a grand total of 73 yards or just 9.1 yards on average with a long of 17. The Steelers did not get many returns either, but Jeremy Kapinos averaged 56 yards on two punts and Suisham made both field goal tries, from 41 and 24 yards.

COACHING
A -- There was concern that the Steelers might not "take care of business," as Mike Tomlin likes to say, with a bye on the line. They not only did it, they did it quickly and the first play-call on offense looked brilliant -- a deep pass to Mike Wallace for a 56-yard TD. Tomlin started Troy Polamalu instead of protecting him from further injury, which was part message to the rest of them to let them know how important the game was and they all bought into it.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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