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Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger, Bell exploiting defenses focused on pass

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By Alan Robinson
Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013, 3:27 p.m.

Ben Roethlisberger said the Bengals and Packers dared the Steelers to run the ball, so they did, with Le'Veon Bell rushing for a combined 181 yards.

Even in the no-huddle, when Roethlisberger calls the plays, he frequently is going to the run.

“The defense has been really putting in a defensive package to take away the pass,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday. “When that's the case, I'm going to call run plays and try to get us in the best play possible. It's great the coaches have faith in me that I'm not just going to call pass plays.”

• With Christmas falling at midweek, the Steelers are taking a rare Wednesday off during a game week. CoachMike Tomlin chose to practice Tuesday, normally the players' day off, then give them the holiday off. The second full practice in advance of the game against the Browns is Thursday.

• The Steelers averaged almost 9 yards per carry while running behind right guardDavid DeCastro in Green Bay. At this time a year ago, the Steelers' 2012 first-round pick was only beginning to play after missing most of the season with a serious knee injury. “I've come a long way since last year — it's a whole different game,” DeCastro said. “It's always nice to have that one (full) year out of the way, so you can understand the game and what it takes to be a successful player.”

• On Sunday, cornerbackIke Taylor will move pastTerry Bradshaw, Andy Russell and Sam Davis into 16th place in Steelers history by playing in his 169th game. Among players who came into the league in the past 20 years, only Deshea Townsend and Casey Hampton have played in more games for the Steelers. Taylor had a rough stretch in which he gave up 334 yards receiving in two games, but he allowed the Packers only three catches for 14 yards on the six throws in which he was targeted.

• Taylor and Bell were presented with awards by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Pro Football Writers. Bell won the Joe Greene Award as Steelers rookie of the year, and Taylor won the Chief Award, named for Steelers founder Art Rooney Sr., for media cooperation.

• The NFL is on a record scoring pace, but the Steelers aren't. They've scored 359 points in 15 games and need to score 57 against Cleveland to tie the franchise record of 416 points in 1979.

• Since the Browns re-entered the NFL in 1999, the Steelers are 25-5 against their rivals, outscoring them 728-384.

— Alan Robinson

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