Game 9 Matchup: Steelers vs. Colts
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When the Steelers have the ball: RB Willie Parker will not play because of a shoulder injury. Neither will TE Heath Miller (high ankle sprain). And it is still uncertain if Ben Roethlisberger will play because of his sore right shoulder. However, one of the good things about his replacement, Byron Leftwich, is he takes shorter drops and gets the ball out quicker -- something that could be effective to counter the Colts' speed rush. WR Nate Washington has at least one catch of 48 yards or longer in each of the past four games and has become a big-play threat. The Colts have been without both starting cornerbacks -- Marlin Jackson (IR) and Kelvin Hayden, who has missed the past four games with knee surgery -- and are down to three healthy corners: Tim Jennings, Keiwan Ratliff and Nick Graham.
Game: Steelers (6-2) vs. Indianapolis Colts (4-4).
When: 4:15 p.m.
Where: Heinz Field.
Radio: WDVE-FM (102.5), WBGG-AM (970).
When the Colts have the ball: The running game has not been very effective, though Dominick Rhodes (262 yards) and Joseph Addai (248) have combined for seven rushing TDs. Part of the problem has been a revolving line that has used four different starting combinations and started three rookies at various points. It has also caused some protection problems for QB Peyton Manning, who has been forced to throw quicker than he would like. Manning, though, has not been sacked the past three games and is showing signs of getting his timing back after missing the entire preseason with two knee surgeries.
DEs Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis: Undersized but quick, they have combined for 110 sacks and 61 forced fumbles with the Colts. Byron Leftwich called Freeney the most disruptive player in the NFL. Mathis leads the team with five sacks. What makes them so difficult to block is they use their speed and agility to run to the outside, then twist and spin inside to collapse the pocket. The Steelers have allowed 29 sacks, tied for second most in the AFC behind Cincinnati (30).
This is the first meeting since the Steelers beat the Colts, 21-18, in a 2005 AFC playoff game in the RCA Dome, a victory that propelled the Steelers to their Super Bowl XL title. The Colts have lost their past 12 games in Pittsburgh and 10 of the past 11 overall meetings with the Steelers. They are 2-2 on the road this season. The Steelers are 5-0 against AFC teams, lead the league in total defense and have allowed the second-fewest points (116).
To win, the Colts must ...
1. Corral Moore. The run defense has been stingier the past five games with the return of safety Bob Sanders.
2. Keep Marvin from starvin.' They need to make more big plays on offense, particularly to WR Marvin Harrison.
3. Have Ugoh where Harrison goes. LT Tony Ugoh has to be able to contain OLB James Harrison, who leads the team with 10 sacks.
To win, the Steelers must ...
1. Put Peyton in his place. He has not been sacked the past three games. The Steelers lead the NFL with 32.
2. Bar Clark. TE Dallas Clark has 31 catches and will be a convenient target for Manning over the middle vs. a secondary that will take away the deep pass.
3. Max-protect Freeney. LT Max Starks gets the task of slowing Dwight Freeney, though he might need some help from a tight end or running back.
First Published November 9, 2008 12:00 am