The team to beat

<b>ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -</b> Buffalo entered Sunday's game as the national media's darling team, one that had outscored its past six opponents 228-89 in rebounding from an 0-4 start. The Bills were supposedly a team that might challenge the Steelers, Patriots or Colts for the AFC championship.

The Steelers made sure any challenge the Bills make to the throne will be made next season.

Playing their backups and backups to their backups, the Steelers dominated the Bills, making them look like just another team.

But that is what the Steelers have done to pretty much every team they've faced this season.

"Nobody thought we would come in here and win this game," Steelers receiver Hines Ward said. "What were we in (Las Vegas)? Nine-point underdogs? But nobody in this locker room wants to lose. Every player in here believes that when we step on the field, we won't lose."

At this point, it would be difficult to imagine any team walking into Heinz Field and coming away with a victory, especially when the Steelers now have a couple of weeks to rest up and get as healthy as a team can be at this point in the season.

Certainly that can change. But if the Steelers lose again this season, it's going to take a stellar effort, a near-perfect game, to beat them.

"Fifteen-and-one is nice," said safety Troy Polamalu. "But we have our eyes on the Super Bowl. That's the prize."

It's a prize this team seems more than capable of winning.
  • The stats line shows that James Harrison had just one tackle Sunday. But Harrison was again a force to be reckoned with, driving Buffalo offensive linemen into the backfield and disrupting plays.

    It was especially impressive considering the player lining up on the opposite side of him - Alonzo Jackson - spent most of the day running 15 yards upfield past the quarterback.

    Not to beat a dead horse, which from here on out will be known as an AJax, but Jackson is the worst player I've seen spend an entire season on this team's roster in my 12 seasons of covering this team. In fact, that was a pretty unanimous thought in the press box Sunday.

    Another reporter said Sunday that he could argue a little that Huey Richardson is deserving of that dishonor. He then qualified that statement by saying he could only argue it a little.

  • You're going to here people beating the drum for Willie Parker to play more because of his 58-yard run. And certainly Parker's 102-yard effort Sunday was great.

    But throw out the 58-yard run and Parker had 44 yards on his other 18 carries, a 2.4 yards per attempt average.

    Duce Staley and Verron Haynes didn't light it up against Buffalo's front seven, either, but Parker had too many carries where he either gained no yards or lost yards for my taste.

    Again, though, the Bills' run defense is very stout.

  • Max Starks played some tackle and some guard and more than held his own against Buffalo's big boys. He's starting to look like a keeper.

    If Starks works out, this year's draft class is starting to look like a great one. Obviously Ben Roethlisberger has star written all over him. And Ricardo Colclough looks better and better every week. That's three-for-three in the first three rounds this year.

  • It's a good thing Colclough looks so good because Ike Taylor just doesn't look like he's a starting-quality cornerback.

    Taylor isn't at all physical and he makes up for that by not playing as fast as his 40 times.

  • In case you weren't keeping track at home, tight end Matt Kranchick was the only Steelers player who dressed but did not see any action Sunday.

    I guess watching Jerame Tuman - the other "pass catching" tight end - dropping pass after pass was enough to make head coach Bill Cowher not want to see another "pass catching" tight end play.

  • Neither of Tommy Maddox's interceptions were really his fault. Tuman gift-wrapped the first pick, practically handing the ball to Takeo Spikes.

    And Sean Morey ran a horrible route on Maddox's pass that was picked off by Nate Clements that was returned for a touchdown.

  • How does 15 and one for the thumb sound for the title team's highlight film?


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