Pittsburgh Steelers Team Report

Pittsburgh Coach Bill Cowher is growing impatient with the impatience of quarterback Tommy Maddox, whose pass interception ratio continues to climb. <br><br>Maddox has thrown five touchdown passes and six interceptions, two returned for touchdowns and a third returned 49 yards to the one.

"I think it comes down to the decision making," Cowher said. "It comes down to understanding when there are situations where you take the one-on-ones, which you want to encourage. But you can't force the issue. I think at times, Tommy has indeed forced it. He is the first to admit it after the fact. We have to get him to understand that while it is taking place."

Steelers coordinator Mike Mularkey said before training camp that he wanted Maddox to stop forcing the ball and to cut back on his interceptions. Maddox threw 20 touchdown passes last season and 16 interceptions while playing in 12 games.

"If he has any doubt whether he can stick it in there or not," Mularkey said, "I'm just telling him 'you can't, drop it down.'

"I don't fault him for some of those things because he just has that much confidence, which you really want that in a quarterback. You want the guy to be able to feel like he can stick it in the hole. I really would like to focus, if we can, if there's an indecision in his mind whether he can or can't, he can't. Just drop it down to the back or tight end."

That philosophy prompted receiver Plaxico Burress to call the Steelers' offense "dink and dunk" last Sunday. Burress complained that the Steelers don't throw deep as much anymore. Maddox averaged 6.1 yards per pass attempt in a 30-13 loss to Tennessee last week.

Maddox actually leads the NFL with 1,168 passing yards, and the Steelers lead the league in passing. But Cowher said those statistics are deceiving. Maddox has two 300-yard games this season, both losses.

"We are getting a lot of yards passing, but they are giving us a lot of yards passing. Some of the games we have been getting all this yardage because we have been behind so much."

Cowher has not suggested that Maddox could lose his job to backup Charlie Batch. It was one year ago this week that Cowher yanked starter Kordell Stewart after three games and turned the job over to Maddox.

"I like his aggressiveness," Cowher said. "He made some great throws the other day. But, at the same time, we have to be smarter about some of those decisions. You can call it a fine line or whatever you want, but we cannot continue to have the turnovers that are taking place and win games, because there is a correlation."

The Steelers are tied at the bottom of the AFC with a net turnover ratio of minus-three, thanks in large part to Maddox's six interceptions, one away from tying for the most in the NFL. The 32-year-old quarterback led the league with a 134.3 passer rating after one game but has fallen to 15th at 81.4.

The quarterback also has been unable to put the ball in the end zone. The Steelers are tied for last in the AFC with a touchdown rate of just 33.3 percent (5 of 15) when they crack opponents' 20. They were 1-for-5 against Tennessee last Sunday, coming away with no points on two occasions, including a first down at the one.

SERIES HISTORY: 103rd meeting. Cleveland leads the series 54-48, but are 0-2 in the playoffs, including a 36-33 loss to Pittsburgh in a wild-card game after last season. The Steelers are 27-5 at home against the Browns since the NFL merger in 1970.


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