TV: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms)
SERIES: 19th regular-season meeting, Steelers lead the series 13-5. They also are 5-0 against the Colts in the playoffs, including the last time they played them at Indianapolis on Jan. 15, 2006 -- a 21-18 victory that put Pittsburgh into the AFC championship game and ultimately a Super Bowl XL victory. The Steelers are 10-1 at home against the Colts, plus 3-0 in the playoffs.
PREDICTION: Steelers 27-24
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Colts have already beaten two top-notch 3-4 defenses in Baltimore and New England, but coach Tony Dungy admitted he is wary of the speed of Pittsburgh's outside linebackers and the Steelers' ability to create confusion. The offensive line hasn't been as stout as in recent seasons, leading to more off-target throws from QB Peyton Manning. The game could swing on how effective RB Joseph Addai is in attacking the league's No. 3-ranked run defense and setting up play-action. ... The Steelers have forced the Colts to prepare for two quarterbacks by not announcing whether Ben Roethlisberger would be ready to play or if Byron Leftwich will start. Either way, the Steelers' offense doesn't change much. The speed of the Colts' undersized front seven will be difficult for Pittsburgh's offensive line to handle. This would be a good week for the Steelers to get back to their vaunted running game and hammer away against a Colts run defense that is better but hardly imposing with SS Bob Sanders back in the lineup.
KEY INJURIES: Colts: CB Kelvin Hayden (hamstring) is not expected to play. Steelers: TE Heath Miller (ankle) is out; Roethlisberger (shoulder) is questionable; LT Marvel Smith (back spasms) is uncertain.
FAST FACTS: The Colts have been outscored 65-35 in losing their past two road games. ... Roethlisberger is on pace to be sacked a franchise-record 52 times.
--CB Kelvin Hayden (hamstring) has not practiced for nearly two weeks and will not play this week against the Steelers.
--TE Tom Santi (shoulder) has not practiced this week and is not expected to play Sunday at Pittsburgh.
--S Bob Sanders sat out Thursday's practice in order to rest old injuries. He is expected to start against the Steelers on Sunday.
--OT Ryan Diem (ankle) did not practice on Thursday. An update on Diem's availability for the Steelers game is expected Friday or Saturday.
--DT Daniel Muir (hamstring) saw limited work on Thursday. A final determination on his status for Sunday won't be made until Saturday.
--DE Dwight Freeney returned to practice Thursday and will start against the Steelers.
--DE Robert Mathis practiced Thursday and will play against Pittsburgh on Sunday.
--CB Tim Jennings took part in Thursday's workout and is expected to start against the Steelers.
--WR Reggie Wayne practiced on Thursday and will start Sunday against Pittsburgh.
--LB Freddy Keiaho (knee) practiced Wednesday and Thursday. He is expected to be available for the Steelers game on Sunday.
--CB Dante Hughes (ankle) has been able to participate in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Hughes should be able to play against Pittsburgh this weekend.
-- QB Byron Leftwich has had good success against the Colts. In five starts, he has seven touchdowns and just one interception, all with Jacksonville, and won two games. If Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder) can't play, Leftwich will start.
-- LB Lawrence Timmons could play a key role on Sunday because he plays inside in the nickel, a defense the Steelers likely will use often against the no-huddle Colts.
-- LB LaMarr Woodley (calf) did not practice for the second straight day, but he also missed time with the same injury last week and returned to have two sacks against the Redskins.
-- RB Mewelde Moore's kickoff return duty might be cut short after one game because he will start in place of Willie Parker at halfback.
-- CB Bryant McFadden is still healing from a broken forearm and will not play. Deshea Townsend will replace him and Willie Gay again is the nickel corner.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
Tony Dungy is quite aware of Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward. Dungy initially became aware of Ward while he was still the head coach at Tampa Bay and has followed his career with the Steelers with a lot of interest.
"He's a tough guy. I remember when he came out of (the University of Georgia) and I was in Tampa. Our scouts really liked him, but we didn't pass him on the physical. We thought he would never hold up (physically). It's just one of those things. I think a lot of people were in that same boat," the Indianapolis coach recalled recently.
"He'd had some injuries (in college). But he's been a very productive guy. We had him in the Pro Bowl when we were over there in 2003. He's very, very much a pleasure to coach and probably a guy that everybody would want on their team. A guy who's productive, who blocks inside and outside. And (a player who) does all the things that help you win games. They used him when (former Steelers offensive coordinator Mike) Mularkey was there in that slash-type role, in at quarterback and throwing reverse passes. So he can do a lot to help you win."
One area where Ward particularly excels is as a run blocker. Opposing defensive backs and linebackers need to know where he is at all times for fear of being drilled from the blind side.
"He was perfect for Pittsburgh's attack and the way they have been over the years since he's been there. You're not going to catch a lot of balls (in the Steelers offense). It's not going to be the type of offense where you catch 110 passes. But getting those running backs out on the perimeter, making blocks to win games. He was a perfect fit for them," Dungy said.
"You know, as a defensive back, there are some receivers that aren't going to block you. And there are some that will. (Ward) is in that category. So you know you're going to get blocked on certain plays and you have to be ready for it."
The Steelers will face Indianapolis with some of their top offensive players out of the lineup. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not practice on Thursday for the second straight day and his availability remains in question.
Halfback Willie Parker likely will miss another game when the Steelers play the Indianapolis Colts Sunday at Heinz Field, and this time it's a different injury.
Parker has an injured shoulder that may be dislocated. It happened during his return to play Monday night against the Washington Redskins, his first action since the MCL in his left knee was sprained Sept. 21. He ran 21 times for 70 yards and a touchdown against the Redskins, but now is back on the shelf.
That's the third different injury to cost him time in his past six games. He broke a fibula in the 15th game of last season when he was leading the NFL in rushing. After topping 100 yards in his first two games this season and returning to form, his knee was sprained against the Eagles. Now this.
Mewelde Moore, who averaged more than 100 yards rushing in his three starts at halfback while Parker was out, will replace him against Indianapolis.
Two other offensive stars will not play, left tackle Marvel Smith will miss his fourth straight game with back problems and tight end Heath Miller has a high ankle sprain that was injured Monday in Washington.