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Week 15: Steelers Key Matchup

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By The The Tribune-Review
Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009
 

Steelers WR Santonio Holmes vs. Packers CB Charles Woodson

STEELERS — WR SANTONIO HOLMES

In his fourth year, Santonio Holmes has transitioned into the leader of the Steelers' wideouts, taking that role away from future Hall of Famer Hines Ward. Holmes, the Super Bowl XLIII MVP has been targeted by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a team-high 113 times. He passed 1,000 yards in a season for the first time last week; his total of 1,080 leads the team and ranks third in the NFL. Holmes' 70 receptions are also a career best. Holmes set a career high in receiving yards a few weeks back when he hauled in eight passes for 149 yards in a loss to Oakland. Holmes has eight games with at least 80 yards receiving.

PACKERS — CB CHARLES WOODSON

The 33-year-old former Heisman Trophy winner has found the fountain of youth in Green Bay and is being talked about as a serious candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. Woodson has done it all this year. He is second in the league with eight interceptions, including two he returned for scores. He has forced four fumbles and has two sacks. His five sacks since 2008 lead all NFL defensive backs (safeties and corners). His 61 total tackles are already more than he accumulated all last of season. What has made Woodson so dominant this year has been his versatility — he has played corner, safety and linebacker .

ADVANTAGE: WOODSON

If there's one knock on Woodson, it's that he tends to struggle with quick players. Holmes could be the Steelers' quickest receiver — if he can get a free release off the line of scrimmage. If he can do that, he could make some plays against Woodson. However, the way Woodson has been playing, it might be tough to get anything accomplished against him. He has shut down some good receivers, such as Detroit's Calvin Johnson and Baltimore's Derrick Mason, and some elite tight ends, such as San Francisco's Vernon Davis and Dallas' Jason Witten. Woodson has found new life in Green Bay since coming over from Oakland. He has 27 picks in 59 games with the Packers and only 17 in 106 with the Raiders.

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