A must see melee in San Diego

Football is the ultimate team sport, but Sunday's game against the Steelers features a terrific one-on-one match-up. Hines Ward, the reigning Super Bowl MVP and one of the game's most physical receivers, will line up across from the equally pugnacious Quentin Jammer.

Hines Ward caught six passes against the Chargers in 2003 and again in 2005 for a combined total of 177 yards. When he and Quentin Jammer collide, however, they compete for most than just receptions and pass break ups. The Steelers offense relies on establishing the run and there may be no better run-blocking receiver in the league than Ward. Jammer, however, is one of the league's most aggressive cornerbacks in run defense and will be responsible ensuring the speedy Willie Parker doesn't break free to the outside.

"He's an electric player," said Marty Schottenheimer of Parker. "He has great speed. If you give him a crease you better close the hole quickly. He has the ability to bounce it outside and because of his foot speed can beat to the outside."

The match-up between Ward and Jammer will help determine the amount of success the Steelers are able to have through the air against the Chargers No. 1 ranked pass defense. Part of the reason for that lofty ranking is the improved play by Jammer – whose constant self-betterment netted him a five-year contract extension during the offseason.

Jammer has intercepted two passes in just three games this season. It is debatable whether he will be able to keep that pace and finish the season with double-digit picks, but he has a real shot to best his previous career high of four, set back in 2003.

"He played very well for us last year but didn't have the takeaways," Schottenheimer said. "I told him, ‘we have to work on the run after the catch.'"

Playing against the Steelers represents an extraordinary challenge for Jammer. Pittsburgh will lean on the run, tempting Jammer to peek into the backfield. Then, when the timing is right, the Steelers will come back with a long ball or a trick play.

It will take a disciplined performance by Jammer to keep that play from connecting. Any trick plays will likely be run through Ward, a four-time Pro Bowl selection and former college quarterback.

"You don't want to get in a third and long situation against them," said Pittsburgh head coach Bill Cowher. "They have corners that can cover too. They are number one in total defense and number one against the pass. It's going to be a grind. They are one of those teams that you have to be patient in your approach against them and be persistent."

It will be refreshing to see such a physical match-up involving a receiver and cornerback. In today's NFL, such skill players have become known as the divas of the league. Sunday's Ward-Jammer exchange will be anything but a catfight. These two will go at it like football players, which is what makes their encounter a must-see melee.

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