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Steelers schedule road-heavy early, home late

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Pittsburgh Steelers open their 80th season with a rematch. Kind of.

The Steelers will travel to Denver to start the 2012 regular season on Sept. 9 in a rematch of the Broncos' 29-23 overtime win in the wild card round of last year's playoffs.

Instead of facing Tim Tebow, however, Pittsburgh will take on a rebuilt Denver team featuring Peyton Manning in the first of five primetime games featuring the Steelers next fall.

Pittsburgh won't have to wait long to get a shot at Tebow. The Steelers host the New York Jets in the home opener on Sept. 16.

"There will be a lot of attention paid to Peyton Manning's first game with the Denver Broncos, so it'll be exciting to start out that way," Steelers president Art Rooney II said. "Then we have the New York Jets at home, which will be another exciting game, a repeat of the AFC Championship Game from a couple of years ago here at Heinz Field."

The game against the Jets is one of just two games the Steelers will play at home in the season's first seven weeks.

The team's bye week on Sept. 30 and a home date with cross-state rival Philadelphia break up road trips to Oakland (Sept. 23), Tennessee (Oct. 11) and Cincinnati (Oct. 21) loom, with the Titans game coming on a Thursday night.

The Steelers will host NFC East opponent Washington on Oct. 28 then travel to face the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants on Nov. 4.

Former Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley, now Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator, gets a chance to face his old team when the Chiefs visit on Monday Night Football on Nov. 12.

The Steelers play five of their final seven games against AFC North opponents, including two matchups with rival Baltimore in a three-week span. Pittsburgh hosts the Ravens on Nov. 18, with Baltimore getting the rematch on Dec. 2.

A home game against San Diego on Dec. 9 and a visit to Dallas on Dec. 16 break up the run of divisional games. Though the Steelers will close out the regular season at Heinz Field against Cincinnati on Dec. 23 and end the season against Cleveland on Dec. 30.

Pittsburgh's schedule is tied for 14th-toughest in the NFL based on the 2011 standings, with only five games coming against teams that made the playoffs last year - Denver, Cincinnati, Baltimore and the Giants.

The Steelers open preseason play on Aug. 9 at Philadelphia then host the Indianapolis Colts on Aug. 19. Pittsburgh travels to Buffalo on Aug. 25 and wraps up the exhibition schedule at home on Aug. 30 against the Panthers.

The team will celebrate an old look while commemorating its 80th season. Rooney introduced throwback jerseys replicating the ones the franchise used in 1934. The black-and-yellow striped design was used for just one season.

The Steelers will wear the jerseys in two games at home. The dates have not been determined.

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