Notebook: Cowher curt on old losses

<b>PITTSBURGH -</b> Any fan can tell you the Steelers are 1-3 at home in AFC championship games under coach Bill Cowher.<br><br> As underdogs Sunday against New England, the Steelers are expected to fall to 1-4 in that department.

Obviously it's not the preferred topic of conversation for Cowher these days. He was asked Tuesday if he learned anything from the losses and he said there was nothing to learn.

"I think we've been prepared to play every game. We just have not made the plays you have to make in big games," he said.

On Thursday, he was asked about it again, and Cowher liked the question even less.

"I don't learn from them," he said with a bothered look on his face.

Cowher went through each loss for the throng of reporters. He detailed the fourth-and-three incompletion in 1994, Denver's third-down completion in 1997 and the special-teams breakdowns in 2001.

"What did I learn from that?" Cowher asked. "That's the game of football and it comes down to making plays. We were prepared for each one of those games. We had an opportunity in each one of those games, but the other team won. They made more plays than we did, and I'm not going to overanalyze it any more than that. This game we are playing Sunday night is between two good football teams, and it's going to come down to execution and it's going to come down to making plays. Whoever makes more will move on and the other one will sit back and reflect."


Every member of the Steelers' active roster practiced Thursday, but three Patriots "missed at least a portion of team practice," according to the league's daily injury report.

Missing time for the Patriots for a second consecutive day were fullback Patrick Pass (ankle) and defensive end Richard Seymour (knee). Both are questionable for the game. Linebacker Ted Johnson was added to the injury list Thursday after missing practice with the flu. He's probable for the game.


When the Steelers' highlight film comes out after the season, Ike Taylor figures to be on it for his Halloween interception of Tom Brady's pass that was intended for Bethel Johnson. Taylor leaped high for the ball and came away with the only pick of his young career.

"That had to be the number one interception of the year," Taylor said. "Even if somebody else had made that same interception, I'd say the same thing. I was just sittin' in the air for so long. I was like sittin' in the air for a minute and I happened to come down with it."

Taylor, a second-year back-up, will likely cover Johnson again when the Patriots use him as their fourth wide receiver. The two players go back to their days in college when Taylor held the speedster out of the end zone in his first game as a college cornerback.

"He's fast," Taylor said. "We call fast people 'John Blaze.' Well he's John Blaze and he's real physical. He's doing real good over there."


Deshea Townsend also intercepted Brady in the teams' previous meeting. Townsend returned it 39 yards for a touchdown.

It was one of four interceptions on the season for Townsend, who almost had another last week against the New York Jets with a broken hand.

"It most definitely went through my hands," Townsend said. "I was trying to catch a beach ball or something. I had my hands way too wide to catch the ball."

Was he thinking about any potential pain from the ball hitting his injured hand?

"No. There's no pain," he said. "The catch is easy. The pain that's afterward is what you worry about, from the tackles, but that didn't bother me at all. Catching the ball is the easy part.

"Actually, that's what you get for cheating. I tried to push the guy off, and when I pushed him off I didn't get my hands back in time to get them together for the catch."


Strong safety Troy Polamalu was flattered by a comment made by defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. After the win over the Jets, LeBeau said Polamalu could play cornerback if needed.

"Actually," said Polamalu, "I had just stepped on the scale a few minutes ago and I was just saying that, man, I need to lose some weight so I can play some more man-to-man. But that's definitely a great compliment, considering the things that were said about me coming into the NFL. I do realize I need a lot more work and definitely will be put in that situation this week against some top-notch wide receivers."


Mike Logan on how he's passed the time since being put on injured reserve Oct. 20:

"I've been able to take the time to walk my son to the bus stop or take him to school, so I get here at 8:30 and leave about 1 or 2. That makes for a lot more time for my wife to put me to work. Believe me, I have an immaculate attic and garage right now. The time has been well spent from my wife's perspective."


Lee Greenwood will sing his song "God Bless the USA" during halftime Sunday night. Performing the national anthem will be 13-year-old Tiffany Evans, a Star Search winner. Local singer Jim "Sputzy" Sparacino will sing "America the Beautiful" prior to the game.

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