Linebacker James Farrior, who played New England twice annually when he was with the Jets before joining the Steelers in 2002, is awed by the Patriots' 21-game winning streak.

"To win that many games in an NFL season, the way the NFL is so competitive, it's amazing," said Farrior, who then shook off what Sunday's game might mean in the history books. "We're not worried about history, we're just worried about winning this one game. That's all it is, one game in our season. It's a big game and it will turn a lot of heads if we do well in this game."

--Sunday's game will feature a matchup of Pittsburgh's best red zone offense in the NFL (82.4 percent touchdowns) against the AFC's best red zone defense (29.2).

With a victory on the final day of the month, Cowher can increase his October record this season to 4-0 and all-time to 36-13.

With 17 sacks in six games, the Steelers have nearly half of their total of 35 for the entire 2003 season, their lowest output under Cowher.

Cowher has surpassed Mike Holmgren to become the fourth active NFL coach with 120 victories in the regular season. He's 120-77-1 and Holmgren is 119-79. The top three are Marty Schottenheimer with 169 victories, Bill Parcells with 150 and Joe Gibbs with 126.

Coach Bill Cowher said the team has looked for a possible No. 3 quarterback but decided to stay the course as Tommy Maddox comes closer to suiting up. The only healthy quarterback on the roster behind rookie Ben Roethlisberger is second-year pro Brian St. Pierre, who has never played in a game. Veteran Mike Quinn is on the practice squad.

DE Kimo von Oelhoffen will spend no practice time at nose tackle this week, according to coach Bill Cowher. Von Oelhoffen was their starting nose tackle in 2000.

QB Ben Roethlisberger's 100.1 passer rating is the best as a rookie out of any other active NFL quarterback who was drafted in the first round. If he maintains his .690 completion percentage (78 of 113) he will break the all-time best mark for NFL rookies (58.4 by Dan Marino).

WR Plaxico Burress has 244 career receptions and can move into seventh place in team history with seven more catches.

RB Jerome Bettis is sixth on the NFL's all-time rushing list but he has not been able to conquer New England. In three games against the Patriots, he hass never had more than 80 yards and has 163 total and a 3.4-yard average per carry with no touchdowns.

LB Joey Porter continues to lag behind in sack production. Porter, who had 28.5 sacks over three seasons, 2000-2002, has one this year after getting five last season.

Extra Points: Don't be surprised to see the Steelers throw some different defenses at Tom Brady, Corey Dillon and New England's potent, balanced offense. The loss of Pro Bowl nose tackle Casey Hampton will force them into some of it because replacement NT Chris Hoke just does not have the talent or size of Hampton. On offense, they want to run the ball with Duce Staley but will also test New England's banged-up secondary, especially deep to Plaxico Burress.

Pro Bowl matchup between Pats CB Ty Law and Steelers WR Hines Ward. ... C Jeff Hartings, FB Dan Kreider and RB Duce Staley vs. New England run-stuffer Ted Johnson and playmaker Tedy Bruschi at inside linebacker. ... Rookie QB Ben Roethlisberger vs. Patriots confusing defenses. ... Pats RDE Richard Seymour vs. Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca. ... Patriots K Adam Vinatieri vs. Heinz Field's swirling, confusing winds.

Injury Update: The loss NT Casey Hampton (knee, IR) will force the Steelers to play a different kind of game. Chris Hoke replaces him as a starter but expect other things to happen on defense because of it. ... LB Kendrell Bell is practicing for the first time this season but won't start, if he plays at all. ... WR Lee Mays is questionable with turf toe, meaning special-teamer Sean Morey would either have to become the No. 4 receiver or they will use TE Jay Riemersma or TE Jerame Tuman in that role.

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