EAGLES (3-1) AT STEELERS (1-2)

In-state matchup to test Pittsburgh

2012-10-07T00:00:00Z In-state matchup to test PittsburghThe Associated Press The Associated Press
October 07, 2012 12:00 am  • 

PITTSBURGH - Ben Roethlisberger can't stand Philadelphia. It's not personal exactly, it just comes with the territory when you play in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers quarterback will sit in the stands when the NHL's Flyers visit the Penguins and give the visitors an earful.

"I like to watch the fans boo the Flyers," he said. "I boo, too."

Roethlisberger laughed as he spoke, a rare moment of levity for a team facing a rare early season moment of crisis. The Steelers have started 6-2 each of the last five seasons under coach Mike Tomlin.

Three weeks into 2012, Pittsburgh (1-2) already has the "2" as Philadelphia (3-1) visits today. Another loss would put the Steelers in a precarious position behind AFC North frontrunners Baltimore and Cincinnati.

"(Being) 1-2 lets us know that 'Hey, we can't dig ourselves a deeper hole,'" said Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark.

The Steelers insist they're not panicking - they never do - and point out the Eagles provide so many challenges their slow start is the last thing on their minds.

"It's Philly week for us," Tomlin said. "(The start) is somewhat storytelling. I don't do that. I just simply live the journey."

It's one the Steelers hope starts to smooth out a bit. Having a healthy James Harrison, Troy Polamalu and Rashard Mendenhall should help. Harrison and Mendenhall - both coming off knee surgery - are expected to play for the first time this season while the strained right calf that's kept Polamalu sidelined since the opener appears good enough to go.

Only failure to hold onto the ball has slowed the Eagles over the season's first month. They are fifth in the league in total offense but second in turnovers. The team's NFC-leading dozen giveaways have forced the Eagles to find ways to win late in games, a position Michael Vick has thrived in. He is the first quarterback since 2000 to engineer three fourth-quarter comebacks in the season's first four weeks, including a 19-17 triumph over the New York Giants last Sunday night.

The matchup

• What: Eagles at Steelers, 10 a.m., Channel 11

• The line: Steelers by 3 1/2

• Record vs. spread: Philadelphia 1-3; Pittsburgh 1-2

• Series: Eagles lead 47-27-3

• Notable: Steelers haven't lost back-to-back games since 2009, coming off 34-31 loss to Oakland two weeks ago ... Philadelphia is holding opposing quarterbacks to passer rating of 65.8, third-best in NFL ... Pittsburgh leads NFL in time of possession, averaging more than 35 minutes a game.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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