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Steelers Steelers Report: 10/01/01

Monday, October 01, 2001

Compiled by Ed Bouchette

LOOKING AHEAD

Steelers (1-1) vs. Bengals (2-1), 1 p.m. Sunday, Heinz Field. TV: KDKA. Radio: WDVE-FM (102.5), WBGG-AM (970). The Steelers will open their new home three weeks later than scheduled, their Sept. 16 game against the Browns was postponed by the terrorist attacks.

WHO'S HURTING

Lee Flowers, Steelers SS, left the game in the second quarter and did not return because of a sprained left knee. He wasn't sure how he was injured. He will have a magnetic resonance imaging scan today.

Rob Johnson, Bills QB, left with eight minutes remaining after a hard tackle by Steelers LB Jason Gildon aggravated a bruised hip and a bruised ankle. He plans to play next week.

Kris Farris, Bills LT, has a fractured right leg after RB Travis Henry fell on him from behind. He was scheduled to have surgery last night and is out for the season. Farris, the Steelers' third-round draft pick in 1999, missed all of his first two NFL seasons and was making his first start in the league.

Jeremy McDaniel, Bills WR, has a high ankle sprain.

Tony Driver, Bills SS, has a dislocated shoulder.

Phil Hansen, Bills DE, has a dislocated elbow.

Leif Larsen, Bills DT, has a dislocated elbow.

NEWS & NOTES

Hines Ward is catching more passes and enjoying less yardage. Yesterday, he caught a career-high nine from Kordell Stewart for only 79 yards. He caught two fewer passes in the opener at Jacksonville but for 3 more yards.

"I didn't get a chance to go deep downfield," said Ward. "We're just a ball-control offense. Third-and-6, I'm looking to get the ball, whatever."

The team record is 14 receptions, by Courtney Hawkins in 1998 against Tennessee. Ward might have had 10 and a sixth-place tie in franchise history except one of the balls thrown to him by Stewart was ruled a backward pass and thus a lateral and a rushing attempt -- for no gain.

"Hines has always been a very productive receiver," Coach Bill Cowher said.

Never like this, though. Ward has more catches than anyone the past two years with 109. He has set a blistering pace after two games to catch 120 passes in a 16-game season.

Kris Brown missed his first field goal attempt when his 33-yard kick sailed wide right in the first quarter. He came back to hit field goals of 30 and 52 yards, the latter putting the Steelers in front by 10 with 8:55 left in the game. Cowher turned to Brown before the long attempt and asked him if he could make it. Brown said he could. As Brown prepared to kick, Cowher noticed a change that bothered him. "That wind was no longer with him, it looked like it was against him," Cowher said. "I thought another score would be very pivotal and it turned out to be a great kick by Chris."

The Steelers' defense welcomed their two turnovers yesterday after producing none in the opener. The big plays came when Dewayne Washington returned a fumble 63 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, and Chad Scott returned an interception 62 yards in the fourth quarter.

It was Scott's first game after he missed the opener in Jacksonville with a slightly torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee. He seemed to run out of steam at the end of his interception return. "I was getting a little bit tired," he said. "I didn't have that many [practice repetitions] and the brace was extra weight, so I guess I ran out of gas a little bit in the end. I was trying to get into the end zone. They have to tackle me when I get an interception. I'm not running out of bounds."

Plaxico Burress thought he was going to score his first NFL touchdown when he broke wide open in the end zone in the second quarter. A defender had fallen down. But Stewart threw a poor pass that bounced several feet in front of Burress. "I thought Plax did some good things today," Cowher said.

The Bills, depleted by injuries coming into the game, lost six more players, including LT Kris Farris for the season and four others are likely to miss more playing time. Owner Ralph Wilson and GM Tom Donahoe had a brief chat about the situation after the game. "Mr. Wilson just told me he's never seen anything like it in his 41 years in this league and going back to the old AFL," Donahoe said. "But it's part of the game, and we've got to overcome it. We played a good team today, and you've got to take your hats off to the Steelers. They deserved to win."

Many Bills pointed to their failure to score a touchdown from the Steelers' 1 late in the first half as the primary reason they lost. On second down, G Marques Sullivan was penalized for a false start, moving the ball back to the 5. QB Rob Johnson's pass on the next play was tipped by LB Kendrell Bell and fell incomplete, and his third-down pass to WR Eric Moulds was overthrown. Buffalo settled for K Jake Arians' 23-yard field goal and cut the deficit to 10-3. "That kind of took a lot out of us," RB Travis Henry said. "You've got to score from the 1-yard line."

The Steelers deactivated FB Dan Kreider (finger), DE Kimo von Oelhoffen (ankle), G Chukky Okobi, G Keydrick Vincent, OT Mathias Nkwenti, LB Justin Kurpeikis and DT Chris Hoke.

FOR THE RECORD

Bills FB Larry Centers made five catches, giving him 701 for his career. He is the first NFL running back to top 700, and he moved into 13th on the overall receptions list.

Amos Zereoue's 32-yard run in the first quarter was the Steelers' longest by a running back since 1999, but it also was his only carry of the first half. Zereoue finished with four carries for 37 yards.

Steelers K Kris Brown's 52-yard field in the fourth quarter matched his career best.

NUMBERS

Hank Poteat, who tied for sixth in the NFL last season by averaging 13 yards on punt returns, is off to another fast start. Yesterday, he returned one punt for 39 yards, another for 18 and averaged 15.2 yards on six punt returns.

The Steelers took a 9-8 edge in the all-time series with the Bills.

The Bills have allowed a 100-yard rusher in each of their three games: Saints RB Ricky Williams, Colts RB Edgerrin James and Steelers RB Jerome Bettis, who had 114.

It was the 47th 100-yard game of Bettis' career.

Steelers DE Aaron Smith, who had the team's only sack in Jacksonville, had another yesterday and leads them with two, half of what he had last season.

HE SAID IT

George Pataki, governor of New York, addressing the crowd of 72,874 before the first NFL game played in his state since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks: "New Yorkers are a strong people. America is a strong nation. While these evil attacks broke our hearts, they have not broken our spirits."

FOURTH-AND-SHORT

If lingering hard feelings between Steelers Coach Bill Cowher and Bills GM Tom Donahoe carried over into the game yesterday, neither was letting on.

Cowher made no mention of Donahoe or of any particular satisfaction in beating Buffalo, and Donahoe seemed far more concerned about the state of his team than the Steelers.

"It's going to be tough," Donahoe said. "We have a young team that's inexperienced, and we have a difficult cap situation. We just have to be patient and, hopefully, our fans will be, too. You know, it's tough, when you have a great tradition like the Bills have, no one likes to see the team lose. But I think the real fans understand what we're trying to do."

Donahoe dismissed any special significance in losing to the Steelers.

"No, that stuff gets overblown. It's just a game, and we're disappointed we didn't play better. We give our opponents credit for coming in here and getting a win."

Before the game, several Steelers players received a note in their Buffalo hotel rooms, signed by Donahoe: "Welcome to Buffalo. Good luck next weekend." The word "next" was underlined. Other members of the Steelers' traveling party were greeted in their rooms by a bottle of wine.

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