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Week 9: Steelers Key Matchup

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By The The Tribune-Review
Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009

Steelers tackles Max Starks/Willie Colon vs. Denver LB Elvis Dumervil


The Steelers' offensive line has been a pleasant surprise, limiting the sacks on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger this season. Starks has lined up against some of the top pass-rushing players in the league through the first half of the season and has virtually shut them out. Starks officially has allowed 4.5 sacks in seven games, but all but one of them have been coverage sacks. Colon has been just as impressive on the right side of the line, but with him, he has been better run blocking than pass blocking. The Steelers have found a liking to running the ball on the right side, and many of the big plays from Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall have come over Colon.


Dumervil is a small pass-rushing demon. He is 5-foot-11, 242 pounds. Dumervil is second in the NFL with 10 sacks and has accounted for a pair of sacks in four of his past six games. Dumervil's 36 sacks since enter the league in 2006 are the most in the AFC during that period. A week ago, Baltimore tackles Jared Gaither and rookie Michael Oher held Dumervil sackless. He has been held sackless three times this season, with Cincinnati and New England also holding him in check. Dumervil had four sacks against Cleveland Week 2.


Denver's 3-4 defense affords Dumervil to move from right end to left end exposing Starks and Colon to his pass rush. Denver has been good at finding a matchup for Dumervil to expose. If he can't use his speed rush against Colon, the Broncos will move him to Starks' side to see if that works and vice versa. He also lines up at defensive end. Dumervil tied an NFL record for fastest to 10 sacks in a season, getting there in six games. The Giants' Michael Strahan accomplished that feat in 2001. Dumervil is on pace for a 22.8 sacks this season.

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