Each team hosted a formidable foe and sent their fans home disappointed. Pittsburgh welcomed Jacksonville to Heinz Field and wound up with a damaging 29-22 loss that dropped it into a tie with Cleveland for first place in the AFC North. St. Louis, meanwhile, played at home against Green Bay and lost 33-14 to the NFC North champs.
The Steelers desperately need a victory to snap a two-game losing skid and keep pace with the surging Browns, who would lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with Pittsburgh. The Rams, on the other hand, are just playing for pride at this point after having been eliminated from the playoff race long ago. Complete playoff picture.
Steelers WR Hines Ward vs. Rams CB Fakhir Brown.
Without much fanfare or controversy, Ward is quietly having another standout season for Pittsburgh. The tough wideout has six touchdown receptions and is Roethlisberger's most dependable target in key situations. Ward also helps set up the outside runs by Willie Parker with his outstanding downfield blocking. The task of neutralizing Ward in the passing game and also fighting through his blocks to minimize the Steelers' dangerous outside rushing attack falls to the veteran Brown. Never known as a premier cover corner, Brown is enjoying his best season in his eighth year. He has a career-high four interceptions and his first career touchdown, despite missing the first four games. If he is up to the challenge of shutting down Ward, the Rams' chances of pulling off the upset increase dramatically.