When: Sunday, 10 a.m. PDT, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
Record: 0-1 after Sunday’s 35-7 loss to the Ravens in Baltimore
Where they rank: No. 22 on offense (25th rushing, 17th passing); No. on defense (30th rushing, 13th passing)
Series: Seahawks lead 8-7, but the Steelers won the last meeting – 21-0 in Pittsburgh on Oct. 7, 2007 – and they also have a 6-2 edge in games played in Pittsburgh
Star power: Where to start on a team that has had seven Pro Bowl players (linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, nose tackle Casey Hampton, defensive end Brett Keisel, tight end Heath Miller, safety Troy Polamalu and center Maurkice Pouncey) the past two seasons and two defensive players of the year (Harrison and Polamalu) the past three seasons? With the guy who gets the most attention, off as well as on the field: QB Ben Roethlisberger. His image is even larger than the player they call Big Ben (6-5, 241). But most of the attention he got in the opener against the Ravens was negative, as Roethlisberger threw three interceptions, fumbled twice, was sacked four times and emerged with a 52.9 passer rating.
Unsung hero: Mike Wallace. Not the old “60 Minutes” correspondent, the third-year wide receiver who gave the Steelers their best 60-minute performance in the opener. In a game where little went right for his team, Wallace caught eight passes for 107 yards against the Ravens – his fourth consecutive game with triple-digit receiving yards. Honorable mention to Ike Taylor, the right cornerback who is playing with a broken left thumb but held the Ravens’ Lee Evans without a catch in the opener.
On the spot: Marcus Gilbert. The Steelers’ second-round draft choice is stepping in at right tackle for Willie Colon, who had surgery today to repair the triceps he tore in the opener. Gilbert’s got the size (6-6, 330), he’s just light on experience and the rookie will be tested by the Seahawks’ D-end trio of Red Bryant, Chris Clemons and Raheem Brock.
Burning question: What has happened to the Steelers’ defense? They ranked first in the league in run defense last season, allowing an average of 62.8 yards. But the Steel Curtain got run over for 170 yards by the Ravens. They have allowed only two 100-yard rushers in the past 51 games, both by the Ravens’ Ray Rice (107 on Sunday, 141 on Dec. 27, 2009).
Number to know: Eight of the starters on the Steelers’ defense are 30-something: linebacker James Farrior (36), end Aaron Smith (35), Hampton (34), Keisel (33 next week), Harrison (33), free safety Ryan Clark (31), Taylor (31) and Polamalu (30). Cornerback Bryant McFadden will turn 30 in November.
Familiar faces: Linebackers coach Keith Butler played the position for the Seahawks (1978-87) and ranks No. 2 career tackles (813).
The last word: “It’s incredibly humbling which, obviously, we needed at this point. I’ll be interesting to see how we persevere. This is a big step toward humility.” – Polamalu, after Sunday’s loss
Tags: Brett Keisel, Casey Hampton, Chris Clemons, Consecutive Game, Draft Choice, James Harrison, Lamarr Woodley, Lee Evans, linebackers, Marcus Gilbert, Mike Wallace, Passer Rating, Pittsburgh Steelers, Raheem Brock, Receiving Yards, Troy Polamalu, Unsung Hero, Willie Colon
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