KICKOFF: Sunday, 8:30 ET
TV: ESPN, Mike Patrick, Joe Theismann, Paul Maguire, Suzy Kolber
SERIES: 107th meeting. The Browns still lead the series 55-51, but since 1994, the Browns have won only three times in 19 games, including a 36-33 playoff loss in Pittsburgh on Jan. 5, 2003.
*2005 RANKINGS: Browns: offense 23rd (21st rush, 18th pass); defense 24th (28th rush, 19th pass). Steelers: offense 25th (5th rush, 27th pass); defense 8th (4th rush, 21st pass)
PREDICTION: Steelers 16-10
KEYS TO THE GAME: Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger will miss his second consecutive game, and the Browns would love nothing more than to force the game onto the arm of backup Charlie Batch, who struggled last Sunday. But that requires a Cleveland run defense allowing 129.4 yards per game slowing down Pittsburgh's powerful running attack. Offensively, the Browns' offensive line will have its hands full against the Steelers', whose complex 3-4 alignment will bring pressure from anywhere. QB Trent Dilfer lacks mobility and will need to find his receivers quickly to have a chance to take advantage of Pittsburgh's secondary. But the real pressure falls on RB Reuben Droughns, who the Browns desperately need to run the ball well to keep the offense out of obvious passing situations and help control what should be a game-long battle for field position.
FAST FACTS: Browns: Have forced at least one turnover in an NFL-high 21 consecutive games. ... Droughns has averages 116.6 rushing yards in 12 games in which he has had at least 19 carries. Steelers: WR Hines Ward needs three receptions to break John Stallworth's franchise career reception record of 537 set from 1974-87. ... Have scored on all 28 red-zone possessions this season.
BROWNS PERSONNEL NEWS
- G Cosey Coleman probably will miss the Steelers game due to a sprained
MCL in his right knee. Coleman has been effective in the running game and
will be missed.
- G Mike Pucillo will replace Cosey Coleman in the starting lineup if the
injured Coleman can't play. How does coach Romeo Crennel describe Pucillo?
As an "adequate backup."
- CB Daylon McCutcheon missed one day of practice with a sore ankle.
McCutcheon is listed as questionable but probably will try to play because
if he can't the Browns would be without their two top corners. Gary Baxter
already is sidelined for the season with a torn chest muscle.
- G Joe Andruzzi again is listed as questionable with a sore knee, but Andruzzi played the entire game against the Titans after being listed as questionable last week. It would be surprising if he did not play.
STEELERS PERSONNEL NEWS
- TE Jerame Tuman injured his ankle in practice and was taken to have
diagnostic tests. If it's a short-term injury, the Steelers could sign TE
Matt Kranchick from their practice squad. If it's long term, they might look
at two others who were with them in the past, Matt Cushing or Walter
- RB Jerome Bettis did not practice on Thursday but he's expected to suit
up and serve as a backup to Duce Staley on Sunday night. Bettis has a
- TE Heath Miller leads all rookies with 36 points and his six touchdown
receptions are tied for the most at his position with Antonio Gates.
- WR Hines Ward is on pace to catch 60 passes, 20 fewer than last season
when he made his fourth straight Pro Bowl. Ward set the Steelers record with
112 catches in 2002.
- FB Dan Kreider has three pass receptions after he tied for the team lead with two in Green Bay. Mainly a blocker, he has one carry from scrimmage, for 2 yards.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
Browns: The Browns' plan in the off-season when they acquired Reuben Droughns was to team him with Lee Suggs for an inside-outside tandem.
Droughns was going to be the inside, straight-ahead back, the guy who would use his downhill style to run between the tackles.
Suggs was going to be the shifty, quick outside back, the guy who could use his speed to complement Droughns.
A sprained ankle and broken thumb have sidelined Suggs, but he's more ready than he's ever been to play.
Suggs has returned to practice with a soft pad on his thumb. He knows Pittsburgh might try to take advantage of his injury, but if the decision were his he would play Sunday night.
"I can get the job done," Suggs said. "A week from now it's still going to be pretty much the same. I'm just ready to get out there."
Halfback Duce Staley will make his first start of the season in place of injured Willie Parker (ankle). Quarterback Charlie Batch will make his second straight start in place of injured Ben Roethlisberger (knee). And it does not end in the backfield.
On defense, it appears inside linebacker James Farrior will miss the game with a knee injury. Clint Kriewaldt, a seven-year veteran would make only his third NFL start and first with the Steelers if Farrior cannot go. Outside linebacker Joey Porter, questionable with a knee injury, predicted he would play but he did not practice Thursday and James Harrison is ready to step in.
The Steelers are used to it after last season when they lost starters such as quarterback Tommy Maddox, nose tackle Casey Hampton, Staley and cornerback Chad Scott for much of the season with injuries.
Kriewaldt, who has been primarily a special teams player for them the past three seasons, would be the latest.
"Guys who have been stepping in have been here for awhile," Porter said. "It's not like we're putting a fresh guy in there who doesn't know the scheme or what we're trying to do as a team. They've been here, waiting their turn."
Harrison started four games at outside linebacker last season for Clark Haggans and Porter. He's already started three for Haggans this year. Harrison can play on either side and his three sacks are one off the team lead.
"All these guys, we're here for a reason I guess," Kriewaldt said. "Everybody looks at us as No. 2, but we have to know the defense, we're expected to go in there and get the job done if something happens."
Farrior had the best of his nine pro seasons in 2004 when he made All-Pro and his teammates chose him as their MVP. He leads the team with 68 total tackles this season.
"It's tough, those are some big shoes to fill," Kriewaldt said. "He's an unreal player. I'm expected to play just as good as him if not better. I'm just going to do my job, play the way I play and see what happens.
"James is great, it's bad he went down but now I have to step up. I love to start, but I don't want to start under these circumstances. But that's what I'll have to do."