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Steelers, Seahawks face possible season-defining game

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Who will deliver epic performances in this week's matchups?

Air & Ground matchup of Week 12

Pittsburgh Steelers at Seattle Seahawks (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS) -- While the Steelers chase the division-leading Cincinnati Bengals, the Seahawks are on the cusp of wild-card positioning in the NFC. Clearly, this could be a season-defining game for both teams.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is coming off one of his finest performances of his career. Nursing a sprained left foot, Roethlisberger dressed but didn't start for the Steelers' Week 10 showdown with the division-rival Cleveland Browns. Instead, Landry Jones made the start, but was forced out of the game early with a left leg injury. Enter Roethlisberger, who threw for 379 yards and three touchdowns in the 30-9 triumph. Roethlisberger's 379 yards are the most for a quarterback that didn't start a regular-season game in NFL history (astute football historians will recall that Don Strock didn't start in a 1981 AFC divisional playoff game for the Miami Dolphins, but came in and threw for 403 yards in an overtime loss to the San Diego Chargers).

With Le'Veon Bell out for the season, DeAngelo Williams has assumed bell-cow duties for Pittsburgh. Williams posted a season-high 170 yards rushing in his first start in Bell's place -- a 38-35 win over the Oakland Raiders in Week 9 that earned him FedEx Ground honors for the week -- but his production tailed off against the Browns in Week 10.

The Seahawks unearthed a hidden gem from the 2015 NFL Draft class in undrafted rookie running back Thomas Rawls, who dropped 209 yards on the ground against the San Francisco 49ers in a 29-13 win last week. Rawls' 209 yards were the most for an undrafted rookie since at least 1960, and more yards than Marshawn Lynch has had in any game in the professional or college ranks. Rawls is playing in the place of Lynch, whose playing status for the season is in doubt.


» Super Bowl Anthology: In-depth look back at game's history


One interception

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is dominant at CenturyLink Field, compiling a 25-4 career record in home games during his career. This season, his stats are decidedly better at home, where he's thrown seven touchdown passes to just one interception. On the road, he has six touchdowns and six interceptions.

Great Moments in Air & Ground History

Steelers 21, Seahawks 10 (Super Bowl XL) -- Game MVP Hines Ward caught five passes for 123 yards and a touchdown in helping lead the Steelers to their first Super Bowl win since the 1979 season. Hard's touchdown catch came on a trick play in which receiver Antwaan Randle El -- who played quarterback in college while at Indiana -- threw the 43-yard score. Running back Willie Parker's 75-yard touchdown scamper is still the longest in Super Bowl history, besting Marcus Allen's 74-yard touchdown run for the Los Angeles Raiders against the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII. This was the first of three Super Bowl appearances in a six-year span for the Steelers, who won Super Bowl XLIII over the Arizona Cardinals but lost Super Bowl XLV to the Green Bay Packers.

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

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