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fordfixer
12-19-2009, 01:31 AM
Steelers-Packers Matchups
Friday, December 18, 2009
http://news.steelers.com/article/115924/

The following are some of the interesting matchups to watch when the Steelers host the Green Bay Packers in a 4:15 p.m. game on Sunday at Heinz Field:
STEELERS OLBs JAMES HARRISON AND LaMARR WOODLEY VS. PACKERS QB AARON RODGERS: Itís a given that the Steelers want to apply pressure to the opposing quarterback, and Rodgers has shown himself to be one who will hold onto the ball long enough to allow the pass rush to get to him. Sacked 47 times in 13 games so far, Rodgers also has been sacked six times or more in four different games this season. In fact, sacks have been the one consistent glitch in Green Bayís offensive performances throughout this season. Harrison has reached double-digit sacks for the second straight season, and Woodley is on the verge of joining him at that level. During the past five games, which encompasses the Steelersí current losing streak, Woodley has recorded at least one sack in each contest. The seven sacks he has over that five-game span has given him nine on the season. No matter how tempting a target Rodgers might be, the Steelers also will have to keep him contained as they pressure him. While heís not Vince Young, Rodgers has some scrambling ability, because he is second on the team in rushing with 271 yards Ė a 5.3 average Ė and he has scored three touchdowns.

STEELERS LG RAMON FOSTER VS. PACKERS DE CULLEN JENKINS: With Chris Kemoeatu hampered by a wrist injury and a knee injury, Coach Mike Tomlin has decided to go with Foster in his place, and it will be the second start for the undrafted rookie from Tennessee. While there are some issues with inexperience to be expected, Foster is a tough guy, a scrapper who during his limited time on the field has not shown himself to be a mental mistake waiting to happen. The Packers 3-4 defense is coordinated by Dom Capers, who along with Dick LeBeau and Bill Cowher formulated the scheme the Steelers still use, and Jenkins has been doing a nice job as a defensive end. He will make tackles in the backfield on running plays, and he also has 4.5 sacks and an interception, which speaks to his contributions against the passing game. Of late, the Packers defense has been coming into its own as a unit thatís comfortable with what Capers expects from it, and what it has done extremely well to this point in the season is take the ball away. If the Steelers can run the football some, it might limit the opportunities the Packers create for themselves to make interceptions. To run the ball, the Steelers will need to get Jenkins blocked.

STEELERS LT MAX STARKS VS. PACKERS ROLB CLAY MATTHEWS: The USC Trojans sent three linebackers into the NFL during last Aprilís draft, and there was some opinion within the Steelers organization that Matthews was going to be the best pro. Not even a full-time starter throughout his college career, Matthews nevertheless has become a starter as a rookie in the NFL. He took over the spot in the seasonís fourth game from Brady Poppinga, and he comes to Heinz Field leading the team with eight sacks, to go along with three fumble recoveries and six passes defensed. Sometimes schemes will be used to create pressure on the passer, and other times itís simply a matter of winning or losing the one-on-one matchups. Starks has faced many challenges so far this season, and Matthews will provide another one.

STEELERS QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER VS. PACKERS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR DOM CAPERS: As Coach Mike Tomlin has said often, protecting the passer is an 11-man job and if everyone isnít on the same page in terms of recognition then sacks are the result. In Cleveland, Roethlisberger was sacked eight times by a Browns defense that had posted just 24 in its first 12 games. The Browns did a lot of what the Steelers do on defense Ė that is they had a bunch of guys walking around at the line of scrimmage, which left the Steelers trying to figure out who would be rushing the passer and who would be dropping into coverage. Capers is better at that than Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, and he also has better players at his disposal. If Capers is able to confuse or surprise Roethlisberger and/or the other players on offense, sacks could be the result. Or in the case of the Packers this season, interceptions could be the result.