Friday, November 17, 2006
The Friday Five: Week 11 - Steelers @ Browns
(The Burgh - November 17, 2006) - Although the Steelers-Browns rivalry isn't what it once was, this weekend's match-up has the added drama of being the "Battle of the Basement" (of the AFC North). It's been a while since both of these teams have met for the first time in the season with equal records (3-6).
For those of you going to the game, keep a lookout for Cleveland's finest - the Bone Lady (pictured here) and consider the following Friday Five questions:
- Can Willie Keep it Fast? Fast Willie has been on fire lately, coming off of last week's 213 yard rushing performance - the 2nd best ever in team history and best-ever for a home game. Can he keep it up? Currently, he is #4 rusher in the NFL with 871 yards, only behind names such as Tiki Barber (971) LaDanian Tomlinson (932) and Larry Johnson (891). With the possibility of rain or snow on Sunday, Fast Willie might need to put on some all-weather tires in order to keep his up his record pace.
- Will Troy Rebound? After suffering another concussion last week, Polamalu went through an entire practice on Thursday for the first time this week and has been medically cleared to play on Sunday. With a history of concussions (he missed four games with as a freshman in 1999 at USC, and had as many as 4 other concussions during high school), the chances of suffering another one could impact the Steelers decision to sign him for the long-term. The question Stillers Nation ponders is: with Troy's history, should he take another week off? We know it's a do or die situation to make the playoffs every Sunday between now and the end of the season, but giving Troy's head time to heal wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing and would also give Anthony Smith some valuable playing time.
- Pressure or No Pressure? Browns QB Charlie Frye has been sacked 34 times so far this year and he is on pace (unfortunately for Browns fans) to break Tim Couch's franchise record of 54 sacks in a single season. He's spending a lot more time on his kiester than he would like to. Lucky for him that he is facing the Steelers this Sunday, who've had their fair share of problems putting pressure on the QB lately (see the Broncos & Saints games). If the Steelers lack of pressure continues, it could be a long Sunday for fans of the Black & Gold. One other battle to keep an eye on this Sunday is for the Turnover Champion - Frye with 17 (12 INTs and 5 Fumbles) leads Big Ben (14 INTs & 1 Fumble) by only two giveaways.
- A Taste of Reuben? After not practicing either Wednesday or Thursday, Browns RB Reuben Droughns is officially listed as questionable on the team's injury report with a sprained foot. That bodes well for the Steelers, who suprisingly had a tough time tackling the bull-headed Droughns when the two teams met last year. Coach Romeo Crennel is confident that Droughns could still play, but if he is unable to go, backups Jason Wright and Jerome Harrison would both carry the load.
- Weather or Not? The weather on Sunday could be a factor - especially if the prediction for rain and, possibly lake effect snow, holds true. Temps at kickoff are predicted to be in the high 30s, with rain turning to snow. This game has the possibility of turning into a mud bath, which won't bode well for either team's offense. And if the weather is really nasty, scoring for both teams could be kept to a minimum.
Head coach BILL COWHER is 17-5 vs. CLE. Cowher is former Browns LB (1980, Â82); assistant coach (1985-88). PIT has scored 38 points or more in 3 of past 5. ... QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER is 24-9 (.727) in career as starter & has passed for 10 TDs in past 5 games. Roethlisberger is 3-0 vs. CLE, completing 39 of 57 (68.4 pct.) for 591 yds w/ 2 TDs vs. 2 INTs for 99.4 passer rating. In past 3 games, Roethlisberger has passed for 998 yds; needs 275 yds for most in team history in 4-game span (HOF BOBBY LAYNE, 1,272, 11/23-12/13/58). ... RB WILLIE PARKER rushed for team-record 213 yds last wk vs. NO on 22 carries for 9.7 avg. w/ 2 TDs. PIT record for most rush yds in 2-game stretch is 301 (JEROME BETTIS, Oct. 5-12, 1997). Last wk, Parker became 1st player since HOF BARRY SANDERS (10/12/97) to post 2 rushes of 70+ yds in same game. ... In past 2 games vs. CLE, WR HINES WARD has 15 catches for 229 yds w/ TD in each. Of those 15 catches, 13 were for 1st downs. ... Since start of 2004, LBs JOEY PORTER (21.5) & CLARK HAGGANS (19.5) stand tied for 2nd & 4th, respectively, among NFL LBs in sacks. In past 2 meetings, Porter has 4.0 sacks, INT, & FF. ...
CLE has won 2 of past 3, plays next 3 at home & is 3-1 (.750) on season when leading after 3 qtrs. ... Browns are 7-3 (.700) under head coach ROMEO CRENNEL when scoring 20 pts or more. ... QB CHARLIE FRYE (180) tied for 4th most completions in AFC. Frye completed 16 of 22 last wk for career-best 72.7 comp. pct. ... RB REUBEN DROUGHNS has rushed for TD in 5 of past 8 Nov. games. ... TE KELLEN WINSLOW tied for 2nd in NFL w/ 56 catches, leading all TEs by 12 catches (44, TONY GONZALEZ, KC). Winslow needs 3 catches Sunday to surpass HOFer OZZIE NEWSOME (58, 1983) for most by a Browns player in 1st 10 games of season. WR BRAYLON EDWARDS has TD catch in consecutive games. ... CLE tied for 6th in AFC w/ 10 INTs, led by S SEAN JONES. Jones tied for 2nd in NFL INTs w/ 5. Browns have INT in 3 of past 4 games. Rookie DE KAMERION WIMBLEY has 5.5 sacks & needs 1.0 more to set club record for most by rookie (6.0, MICHAEL DEAN PERRY, 1988). CLE Defense has sacked QB Roethlisberger 2 times in each of past 2 at home.