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    Default Broncos, Steelers forged in different ways

    11/9/2009
    Broncos, Steelers forged in different ways
    By F. Dale Lolley, Staff writer

    DENVER - When Mike Tomlin replaced Bill Cowher as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers following the 2006 season, he largely mostly things intact, even keeping a number of Cowher's assistants on staff.
    Tomlin won a Super Bowl two years later.

    Denver's Josh McDaniels went a different direction after taking over for longtime Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan this season.

    McDaniels not only brought in his own coaching staff, he reworked Denver's roster. No player was safe as even quarterback Jay Cutler, viewed as the team's best player at the position since John Elway retired, was traded. The defense shifted from a 4-3 to a 3-4.

    Cutler was traded for Kyle Orton in the offseason. All Orton, who never won a full-time starting job in Chicago, has done is complete 63.6 percent of his passes and post a passer rating of 95.5.

    With those bold moves, McDaniels has the Broncos at 7-1, one win shy of last year's total.

    Tomlin, meanwhile, has the Steelers off to a 5-2 start as the defending Super Bowl champions have won four consecutive games.

    Those two contrasting coaching styles will clash tonight, when the Broncos host the Steelers in a crucial game in the AFC standings.

    The Steelers need a win to keep pace with Cincinnati, a 17-7 winner over Baltimore, in the AFC North standings. Pittsburgh hosts Cincinnati (6-2) next Sunday.

    Denver can hold its lead over second-place San Diego (5-3), a 21-20 winner over the New York Giants Sunday, with a victory.

    "It's a big game, no doubt," said Steelers defensive end Nick Eason, who will make his first start in place of injured Travis Kirschke. "It's Monday night. It's in Denver. They've only got one loss and that came last week, so they're going to be angry."

    The trip to Denver is only Pittsburgh's second since winning the AFC Championship there en route to a victory in Super Bowl XL in 2005.

    How much have things changed since then?

    The Steelers have 22 players remaining from that roster. Denver, thanks in part to McDaniels' purge, has three.

    "That was a long time ago," said Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "I don't even think about that game now."

    The Steelers also visited Denver in 2006 and Roethlisberger struggled. Though throwing for a career-high 433 yards, he was sacked four times and threw three interceptions.

    It also was following that game that Steelers safety Ryan Clark became ill and had to have his spleen removed because of the bad effects from playing at the high altitude.

    The Steelers have been silent about Clark's availability for the game. It's unlikely he'll play, even though he made the trip.

    "This is not about me," said Clark. "It's two good teams playing on Monday."

    That could leave the Steelers without three defensive starters. In addition to Kirschke - who was starting in place of injured Aaron Smith - and Clark, linebacker Lawrence Timmons is questionable with an ankle injury.

    "That's just the life story of the NFL," said Eason. "It happens on a lot of teams."

    [HIGH-LIGHT]Odds and end zones[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    Tomlin is 4-0 in Monday night games, but only 2-1 coming off a bye week. ... Denver has won three of its past four Monday night games at home. ... The game features the NFL's two leaders in sacks heading into this weekend: Denver's Elvis Dumervil (10) and Pittsburgh's James Harrison (8). ... Denver signed former Pro Bowl cornerback Ty Law Saturday. Law, who has not played this season, could see some action on passing downs for the Broncos.

    http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/...rs-Broncos-pre
    Last edited by Palmetto Steel; Nov-09-2009 at 01:09 PM.
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