Pittsburgh Steelers Face Tough Three-Game Stretch

Vicki FarriesCorrespondent IOctober 21, 2010

Ben Roethlisberger Miami Jan 3, 2010
Ben Roethlisberger Miami Jan 3, 2010Doug Benc/Getty Images

Now on the top of the AFC North, the Steelers have the daunting task of a grueling three-game stretch on the road for the first time in 16 years.

In 1994, after a win at home against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Steelers took two out the three games on the road. Two of the next three are AFC teams, one division and one conference. Statistically, teams that play three road games in a row will usually lose one of them.

The Steelers will face the first of the three Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins are the only undefeated team on the road and are 0-2 at home.

The last time these two teams met was Jan. 3, the last game of the season when the Steelers defeated the Dolphins 30-24. Both were eliminated from the playoffs, but it was nice to end the season with a win. Roethlisberger finished the day passing for 220 yards and three touchdowns, no interceptions.

Roethlisberger finally got his feet wet last Sunday after a four-game suspension to help the Steelers defeat the Cleveland Browns, 28-10.

It’s interesting to note how the game was won. Roethlisberger finished the day with 18 completions on 27 attempts for 257 yards passing and three touchdowns and one interception.

Similar to the way he ended the season against Miami, it shows that he (Roethlisberger) gets more done out of fewer throws. So it seems that he doesn't have to put up the football a lot. Look how productive he was Sunday, averaging a touchdown every 85-plus yards.

He even showed nice pocket presence in the second half and continued to throw strikes. That with a balanced running attack is going to win more ball games.

Mendenhall had 27 carries for 84 yards. It may not seem a lot and yes, he didn’t get 100-yards rushing on Sunday, but what he did was to complement the offense. Grinding out yards, moving the chains with an offensive line pushing the pile makes for a nice balance on offense so sorely missed a year ago.

The Steelers will be packing the defense this week without DE Brett Keisel who has been ruled out for Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury. Insert DE Nick Eason and Ziggy Hood to cover.

Eason got the initial nod when Keisel left the Browns game with a hamstring injury. Defensive end Ziggy Hood hasn't lived up to expectations of his No. 1 draft status from 2009. Hood has been hampered by an ankle injury thus far this regular season.

To make matters worse, Eason is suffering from knee and ankle injuries he suffered during last week's game.  The Steelers will need Hood to step up his game especially against LT Jake Long, who has been successful in keeping QB Chad Henne upright. But Long’s challenge will be facing any attack from LB James Harrison.  

Against the NFL's No. 1 rush defense and the No. 1 overall defense, the Dolphins will be challenged in their run game. The Dolphins have been using three running backs Ronnie Brown, Rickey Williams and former Pitt panther running back Lousaka Polite.

The Steelers defense still have not allowed a 100-yard rusher this year, so the Dolphins will have to consider depending upon their passing game, particularly with WR Brandon Marshall.