<b>PITTSBURGH - </b> For the most part, the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) deny that revenge is a primary motive for today's game against the Tennessee Titans (2-1). <br><br> Most, that is, except for the quarterback. <br><br> "No question," said Tommy Maddox. "Today, watching the film of the game from last year, those same thoughts came back."

The Steelers lost to the Titans, 34-31, in overtime when Dewayne Washington first missed a tackle that put the Titans in field-goal range, and then ran, with his head down, into kicker Joe Nedney on a missed a 31-yard attempt. Nedney's subsequent 26-yarder ended the game, but those aren't the plays that haunt Maddox.

"We had an opportunity, probably five or 10 yards away, to get into field-goal range at the end of regulation and win it without going into overtime. Those are the things you think about," Maddox said. "Those 10 yards, as time goes on, they seem shorter and shorter. Why couldn't we get right there? Those are hard things to deal with."

Twice in the final five minutes of regulation the Steelers were in position to add to their 31 points. A 1st-and-10 at their 44 ended with a punt from the Tennessee 48; a 1st-and-10- at the Tennessee 40 ended with a punt after three incompletions.

Maddox had a decent game. He was 21 of 41 for 266 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. His counterpart, Steve McNair, had similar stats (44-27-338, 2 TDs) with two interceptions. Neither team rushed for over 100 yards, and much of the same is expected today at Heinz Field.

The Titans (2-1) come to town with the top-ranked run defense in the NFL, but are expected to be without 320-pound tackle Albert Haynesworth.

Last year's No. 1 draft pick was expected to play a bigger role this season after the Titans let John Thornton and Henry Ford leave via free agency. Instead, the Titans will rely on former practice-squad tackle James Atkins and rookie fourth-round pick Rien Long. Defensive end Kevin Carter will also play tackle on passing downs. Carter is Tennessee's most productive defensive lineman with 17 tackles, two sacks and five quarterback pressures. His sack last week came from the tackle spot.

Another change for the Titans involves middle linebacker, where Randall Godfrey left via free agency and the middle linebacker for Oklahoma's last national championship team, Rocky Calmus, made his first start last week. He helped limit 2002 NFC rushing champ Deuce McAllister to 11 yards on eight carries.

"They put a guy in every hole, every cutback lane and every lane," McAllister said after the game.

It was something the Cincinnati Bengals tried to do last week against the Steelers (2-1), but the visitors still got their running game untracked, topping the 100-yard mark (38-138-3.6) for the first time this season.

"They surprised us," wide receiver Hines Ward said of the Bengals. "When a team challenges you with eight in the box and plays man to man, you have to win in the passing game."

The Steelers didn't need to pass to beat the Bengals, but the Titans will be a different story. When strong safety Tank Williams moves closer to the line as the eighth man, the Steelers will attempt to exploit a secondary consisting of an outstanding corner, Samari Rolle, and a hard-hitting free safety, Lance Schulters. The weak link is cornerback Andre Dyson, and the Steelers will look to beat nickel back Andre Woolfolk, a 6-foot-2 rookie who played wide receiver throughout much of his college career at Oklahoma. Woolfolk replaces another free-agent loss from a year ago, Donald Mitchell.

The Steelers will be missing a key player of their own when Oliver Ross replaces late-scratch Marvel Smith (shoulder) at left tackle, but the Steelers will have something new to show this time around. They are the AFC's top-rated pass defense, and with Eddie George slowing down, the Steelers could have a key match-up edge in defending the Titans, who'll be without tight end Frank Wycheck (concussion).

Wycheck caught a career-high 10 passes for a career-high 123 yards in last January's playoff game. In 14 games against the Steelers, he's caught 61 passes for 674 yards and seven touchdowns. Since 1997, 37 percent of Wycheck's touchdowns have been scored against the Steelers.

Replacing Wycheck are Shad Meier (8-112 yards, team-high 14.1 yards per catch) and Erron Kinney (10-98 yards).

The Titans' leading receiver is Derrick Mason (24-244-1) but Drew Bennett made all eight of his receptions last week for 105 yards and a touchdown.

A possible threat in the Titans' backfield is rookie third-rounder Chris Brown, a 6-3, 219-pounder who practiced for the first time this week. But he and George may find the running yards tough to come by with Casey Hampton playing over new center Justin Hartwig, considered to be the line's weak link.

"It's going to be one of those games where you better not just be standing around because there are guys on both sides that are looking to make a play," said Maddox. "These are games that, when the schedule comes out, you look forward to. You want to be part of the games that everybody's going to be talking about, everybody's going to be watching."

Jim Wexell

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