Steelers Notebook: Starks, Clark will not face Bengals
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Offensive tackle Max Starks and free safety Ryan Clark will not play Sunday when the Steelers conclude their disappointing season in Cincinnati at 1 p.m.
Starks is out with a knee injury and Clark with a groin injury.
Also, linebacker Clark Haggans is doubtful with an MCL knee sprain, and his backup, James Harrison, is questionable with a shoulder injury. If neither Haggans nor Harrison can play, the Steelers could be in trouble. Those two and starter Joey Porter are the only outside linebackers on their depth chart.
Six players are probable for the game --safety Andre Lott (ankle), linebacker Clint Kriewaldt (neck), quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder), cornerback Deshea Townsend (hand), center Jeff Hartings (knee), safety Troy Polamalu (knee).
The spoiler's role
The Steelers can knock the Bengals out of playoff contention Sunday in Cincinnati, much the same way Baltimore did to them last Sunday.
"Let me just say this, misery loves company," coach Bill Cowher said. "We're looking for company."
The Bengals must beat the Steelers, but also get help to make the playoffs the year after they won the AFC North Division. They would make it if the New York Jets lost. If the Jets win, the Bengals would need Denver to lose and Kansas City to win.
A Steelers victory Sunday would leave them and the Bengals tied for second place in the division at 8-8. They tied last season at 11-5, but the Bengals won the tiebreaker to claim the division title.
"I know they still mathematically are in it," Cowher said. "Our goal is to go down there and get this taste out of our mouth and, more importantly, finish the season at 8-8. We'll do that. Playing Cincinnati with a game like that, there's a lot at stake, just pride-wise. It's always been like that."
Another start for Colon
Willie Colon will make his second NFL start at right tackle with Starks out. Cowher gave the rookie a lukewarm review on his debut against the Ravens.
"He did OK at times. I thought he did better as the game went on. It's like anything, kind of like I said last week. You can watch film and see it on the practice field, but, until you get into the game and have to apply it at game speed in a very short period of time, then you get acclimated to it."
New AFC North champ Baltimore, which is 12-3 after going 6-10 last season, roughed up the Steelers in two games by a 58-7 count, which more than surprised Cowher.
"Surprised and disappointed," he said. "I thought this past game we played better, but not to the extent of ... we were down, 14-7, and you come out with a chance to get back into the game and we give up the drive."
The Ravens extended their lead to 21-7 by scoring on the opening drive of the second half.
"We were just fighting an uphill battle," Cowher said. "There's nothing more you can really say about it. They clearly outplayed us in both games."
First Published December 27, 2006 12:00 am