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Sept. 10 -- Live from Heinz
September 10, 2009 - Buck Frank
Third quarter report
Still tied 7-7. Not much worth noting from the third quarter.
Troy Polamalu (left knee) won't return to the game.
The Steelers should probably get into their two-minute offense the entire second half. That's the only way they've been able to move the ball. Ben Roethlisberger looked better in the second quarter, but 10 carries for 12 yards by Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall isn't going to cut it.
Meanwhile, the defense was bending but not breaking until Troy Polamalu went out with a knee injury. His return is questionable and could be a big factor on the outcome. Ike Taylor made a nice play in knocking away a pass on the Titans' final drive of the half but then seemed to fall asleep on two straight passes that allowed Tennessee to tie the game, 7-7.
First quarter report
Wasn't a pretty quarter for the Steelers. The offensive line hardly blocked anyone, and Ben Roethlisberger wasn't sharp.
Luckily for the Steelers, Rob Bironas missed a field goal, and Troy Polamalu was all over the place defensively to keep the game scoreless.
1 hour until kickoff
Nate Washington is active for the Titans, although rookie Kenny Britt may start the game at wide receiver opposite Justin Gage. Ryan Mouton, the Titans' kick returner is also inactive.
The Steeler inactive list includes rookies Joe Burnett (CB) and Kraig Urbik (OG), along with Keiwan Ratliff (CB), Nick Eason (DE), Shaun McDonald (WR) and Tony Hills (OT) -- and, as expected Lawrence Timmons (LB). Dennis Dixon is the third quarterback.
The biggest surprise there is Tony Hills, who has yet to be active for a game in his brief career. The thinking must be that if tackles Willie Colon or Max Starks goes down with an injury, guard Trai Essex could move into a tackle spot, and Doug Legursky or Ramon Foster could take Essex's spot.
1 1/2 hours until kickoff.
Let's talk some football as Fergie dances around the stage on the big screen here at Heinz Field.
Here are a few things to keep an eye on tonight (other than Fergie):
--Chris Johnson and LenDale White combined for 117 yards rushing and two touchdowns last year against the Steelers, and Kerry Collins was 20-of-29 passing for 216 yards and a score. The Steeler defense needs to do a better job of containing Johnson and not letting him cut back on his runs, and they need to get pressure on Collins because he's not mobile.
--Inside linebacker Keyaron Fox is making his first start for the Steelers in place of Lawrence Timmons at the Mack position. Fox has been a key special teams performer for the Steelers and has looked good in the preseason. He may have to be on the field a lot tonight, because Arnold Harrison, more of an outside backer, is the only depth inside.
--Is Willie Parker the short-yardage back? The Steelers have said they'll use Parker in those situations, but what role will Frank "The Tank' Summers play? One stat that sometimes goes unnoticed is that Parker had 11 rushing touchdowns in 2006.
--Ex-Steeler Nate Washington was supposed to be the Titans' deep weapon this year, but he's been injured and is a game-time decision. Even if he's not 100 percent, just having him in the lineup as a threat should help Tennessee.
2 hours until kickoff.
Beautiful opening night for football as of right now. The kickoff concert at the Point is packed!! Many boats are in the rivers trying to listen in on Tim McGraw and the Black Eyed Peas.
The city is really buzzing for tonight's opener. It's been more than seven months now since the Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII. In addition to the concert, other pregame festivities include a Zambelli International fireworks display that is supposed to be the best-ever in Pittsburgh, and Harry Connick Jr. is singing the national anthem.
Rod Woodson will receive his Hall of Fame ring during the Chevrolet Halftime Show.
And there will also be some football at some point, too.