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fordfixer
12-19-2009, 01:15 AM
Marquee matchup: Holmes against Woodson

By John Harris, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, December 19, 2009
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 58559.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_658559.html)

Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes remembers watching Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson become the first (primarily) defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy, in 1997.

"When I was in high school, he was at Michigan," said Holmes, who will face Woodson for the first time when the Steelers host the Packers on Sunday at Heinz Field. "I was a real big fan of his."

Holmes vs. Woodson has the potential to be a great matchup.

Woodson, 33, is tied for second in the NFL with eight interceptions, and he has returned two for touchdowns this season. He's third on the Packers with 67 tackles to go along with two sacks, 15 passes defensed and four forced fumbles.

Since sacks became an official statistic in 1982, Woodson is the first NFL player to record two interceptions, an interception for a touchdown, a sack and a fumble recovery in one game, achieving the feat in this year's Thanksgiving Day win at Detroit.

Because of his stature and Green Bay's 9-4 record, Woodson is being talked about as one of the leading candidates for Defensive Player of the Year.

"He's putting up the numbers at his position better than anybody else," Holmes said. "Why not give it to him?"

Normally assigned to guard the opponent's top receiver, Woodson will likely face Holmes, who is second on the Steelers with 70 receptions and has a team-high 1,080 receiving yards this season.

Holmes is getting used to being shadowed by some of the league's top corners.

He had eight receptions for a career-high 149 yards and a touchdown against Oakland led by Pro Bowl corner Nnamdi Asomugha. Holmes also had six receptions for 93 yards against Denver led by perennial Pro Bowl corner Champ Bailey.

"It definitely will be a tough matchup for both of us," said Holmes, who's fourth in the league in receiving yards. "I know what he possesses. He's an 11-year vet and real crafty. He's got great awareness for the ball. He's going to bully you around.

"He's been watching film to see what I possess. I feel like I'm one of the best receivers."

With three games remaining in the regular season, Holmes has a chance to set a franchise record for most receiving yards in a season. Yancey Thigpen is the team leader with 1,398 receiving yards in 1997.

Over the past six games, Holmes has 40 receptions for 583 yards, an average of 6.6 catches and 97.1 yards per game. Holmes trails Thigpen's total by 318 yards.

"Opportunities have been given to me," Holmes said. "I'm making the most of them. If I get three balls a game, I'm trying to score every time. If I get eight balls a game, I'm trying to score every time."

Asked about the Steelers' five-game winning streak, Holmes frowned.

"We're not playing together as a team," he said. "Individually, it can be good. But when you're not winning, individual stats don't feel good."