Can you hear me now?

Mike Prisuta has watched the offensive line stop some of the league's best pass-rushers this season. Will they do the same against Elvis Dumervil in Denver on Monday night?

They have a once-beaten team and the NFL's No. 1 defense. Still, the Broncos will have just three tangible advantages when they host the Steelers on Monday night.

Location, location, location.

This has less to do with the effects of exertion at altitude on Ryan Clark than it does a pass rush spearheaded by AFC sacks leader Elvis Dumervil in front of a home crowd that's loud.

Steeler Nation won't be taking this one over. Not on a Monday night in Denver. So that'll have to be dealt with somehow.

"It is a great advantage to the home pass rush when the home crowd is that loud," Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said.

From a sacks-alone standpoint, the advantage isn't overwhelming.

Of the top four active sack-masters in the league this season, only two of have more at home than on the road. Dumervil's split is six at home and four on the road. For NFL leader Jared Allen, it's six-and-a-half to four. Dwight Freeney of the Colts actually has more sacks on the road (five) than at home (three).

James Harrison is an equal opportunity quarterback menace (four sacks at home, four on the road).

But as Dick LeBeau has often told us, pressure matters more than actual sacks. And playing in road venues that necessitate the use of a silent count courts pressure if not disaster.

"When your quarterback has no snap count you don't have a hard count so you can't change the count and the defensive line can get into a rhythm," Arians said. "So you have to change your silent snap count as much as possible and that's hard to do.

"You see a lot of teams fail on the goal line on the road because your tight ends and wings can't hear and they can't really see the ball being snapped and they can't really see the (silent count) signal. They're at a huge disadvantage."

The Steelers will combat the static with the dreaded silent count, but days before kickoff there's still a difference of opinion as to how that should best be employed while trying to give the offensive tackles a fighting chance.

Said Arians: "We try to teach them never to look at the ball because if they're looking at the ball they'll get beat."

Said offensive tackle Max Starks: "I definitely look at the ball. It's about having great peripheral vision."

Starks has already taken on the Bengals' Antwan Odom in Cincinnati and Allen at home this season. Both were held without a sack, so the pressure can and has been handled, even on the road. But that doesn't mean Dumervil won't be a handful and the crowd noise in Denver won't be an absolute factor.

That could mean much less no-huddle offense, given the inability to audible at decibel.

That could mean more of Heath Miller in the backfield chip-blocking if not max-protecting, as opposed to downfield continuing his assault on the receiving records of Steelers tight ends.

That could mean more running the ball, or screening it or otherwise messing with Denver's up-the-field obsession.

It might even force Ben Roethlisberger to trade in those pink cleats for his track shoes.

We haven't seen much of Roethlisberger at the Improv this season; that guy hasn't often been needed. But if Starks or Willie Colon are getting beat and Big Ben is forced into escape mode with regularity, making it up as they go along might prove to be the Steelers' best alternative.

It's worked before, even in Denver.


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