- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 31, 2009

MATCHUP TO WATCH

STEELERS WR SANTONIO HOLMES vs. CARDINALS CB DOMINIQUE RODGERS-CROMARTIE

Rodgers-Cromartie is Arizona’s best cover cornerback and has enough athleticism to gamble and then recover if he makes a mistake. The former first-round draft pick has two interceptions this postseason.

Holmes’ role is amplified because of Hines Ward’s knee injury. Even if Ward plays the whole game, Holmes needs to get separation from Rodgers-Cromartie, which would allow Ward to go against an older Rod Hood.

Pittsburgh would like to establish running back Willie Parker, but if he’s held in check, this matchup is key to the Steelers’ ability to string together drives and wear down the Cardinals’ defense.

THREE QUESTIONS WITH STEELERS COACH MIKE TOMLIN

What’s it like coaching a team with a national following?

A: I embrace that. Steeler Nation drives me on a day-to-day basis, and they’re why we do what we do. We appreciate it. There is nothing like going into a hostile environment and seeing so many friendly faces. Everybody that’s in our organization who has been part of another organization appreciates it.

How much have you thought about your pregame speech Sunday night?

A: I haven’t. I make a conscious effort to wing it. I think that’s real. I think our guys relate to that. This week has been tougher than most in terms of trying to keep those thoughts out of my mind because there’s a lot to say. But at the same time, I’m intent on [winging it].

How important will Willie Parker and the running game be?

A: It’s going to be significant. Without giving you the specific game plan, we desire to run the football. We want to do that because we want to win by attrition. We want to impose our will on the people we play. When Willie is successful, the probability of us as a team being successful goes up.

PROP BET

5,000-1

Odds that Pittsburgh will score only two points in the Super Bowl.

UP DOWNS

Cardinals buzz (UP)

The seven-point spread in favor of the Steelers finally dropped to 6 1/2 points.

Temperature (DOWN)

The natives were bundled up when a cool wind dropped temperatures into the 50s.

Roger Goodell (UP)

The commissioner again exhibited that he knows what he’s doing and can provide insight without giving up too much information.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“There was a point after the New England game where our team had enough. They realized that we weren’t getting the job done and we needed to fix that.”

- Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt on his team’s turnaround after a 47-7 loss to the Patriots

NUMBER OF THE DAY

45

Cameras NBC will use Sunday, including one for each locker room.


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