Up next: First look at Pittsburgh

Coach Mike Tomlin has his team off to a 2-0 start and can match Bill Cowher's 3-0 beginning as Steelers coach when San Francisco visits Heinz Field Sunday. No other coach in Steelers history won their first three games other than Cowher.

Last year, the Steelers did not win their second game until mid-October and did not win their third until mid-November as the then-reigning Super Bowl champs swooned to 2-6 in the first half of the season.

"It's like night and day, coming back this year," said receiver Hines Ward. "Winning's always good, everybody's happy, things go a lot smoother. It's a lot easier going to work when you're winning than going to work when you're losing."

The Steelers have outscored their first two opponents, Cleveland and Buffalo, by a total of fifty points (60-10). They have 10 sacks, more than one-fourth of their entire total of 39 from last season.

And they are in first place in the AFC North Division by themselves. They have not held a first-place lead by themselves for a full week since 2004, when they went 15-1. Last season, they won their opener on Thursday and held the lead alone at 1-0 for just three full days and never again.

"It's really about what we do. We can't control what other teams do," Hines Ward said. "It's great for us to start the year out 2-0. We have San Francisco coming into town; hopefully we can start out 3-0."

The only other Steelers team to win its first two games in this century was the 2005 team that won the Super Bowl. The only time they've opened 3-0 in the past 24 years was Cowher's first as coach in 1992. They went 2-0 in 1982, watched as the next seven games were canceled by a players' strike, then went 3-0 on Nov. 21. They have to go all the way back to 1979 to find a legitimate 3-0 start other than 1992.

They have overwhelmed their first two foes: 41 first downs to 23, 385 yards to 444 and a 29-0 combined lead at the half.

Their 26-3 victory at home against Buffalo on Sunday was the franchise's 500th in the regular season, the first team in the AFC to reach that plateau.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has completed passes to nine different receivers. Ward leads with eight receptions for 106 yards, although Santonio Holmes has 108 yards on five receptions.

"Ben is doing a great job of spreading the ball around," Ward said. "Guys are getting opportunities. We're not peaking yet, we still left a lot of plays on the field. That's expected early in the year. You still leave some plays but you come out with a win, you know things are going good. We're going to continue to grow as an offense. We're balanced and we're only going to get better and better."

One place the Steelers must improve, however, is their record in the red zone. Four of their first five drives reached inside Buffalo's 20 in the first half and they had to settle for four field goals by Jeff Reed.

PLAYER NOTES
-- PK Jeff Reed is six-of-six, all on field-goal attempts of 39 yards or shorter, after going four-for-four against Buffalo.
--- QB Charlie Batch has mopped up in both victories, yet has not thrown a pass.
--- QB Ben Roethlisberger has five touchdown passes and one interception. Last season, he led the league with 23 interceptions to go with 18 touchdown passes.
--- RB Willie Parker has two 100-yard games this season, and three consecutive dating back to last season. He's on an early pace for 1,880 yards, which would be a Steelers record.
--- TE Matt Spaeth, a rookie third-down pick, leads the Steelers with two touchdowns -- both on receptions. He has three total catches for 15 yards.


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