Harrison takes fear of flying in stride
• It's been a tough three weeks for linebacker James Harrison for obvious reasons, and one reason not as obvious.
As the Steelers prepare for their third game at Cincinnati on Monday night their third consecutive road contest, Harrison gets another chance to fly on the team charter. The problem is, Harrison hates flying.
"I'm not afraid of heights. The only thing I'm afraid of is the plane crashing," Harrison said.
So what does Harrison do to keep his mind off flying while he's in the air•
"Listen to the radio. Some praying. The whole gamut."
• The early returns from defensive end Ziggy Hood's first NFL start were favorable. Hood recorded one tackle but had no sacks or quarterback pressures in the Steelers' 20-10 loss. New Orleans was held to 30 yards on 21 carries, but quarterback Drew Brees was 34 of 44 for 305 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for a 101.0 passer rating. "I did my job, I did what I had to do," Hood said. "There's a couple of things I can correct, but the good outweighs the bad. Whenever you hold a team to less than 100 yards rushing, you feel good. But we could have done more on the pass rush. Brees was delivering the ball like it was nothing. One time I looked up, and the ball was gone before I even got out of my stance. That's how quick he was." With Brett Keisel returning after missing two games with a hamstring injury, Hood doesn't know if he or Nick Eason will start at left defensive end. "Whatever happens, coach is going to make the right call" Hood said.
• The Steelers lead the NFL in scoring defense (14.6 points), rushing defense (58.9 yards), turnover differential (plus-9) and have permitted just eight touchdowns this season. In 32 starts against AFC North opponents, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 25-7. Roethlisberger suffered four of those losses last season.
• In his first two starts at right tackle, Cincinnati's Andre Smith has faced Atlanta's John Abraham and Miami's Cameron Wake. This week, Smith is matched against LaMarr Woodley, who had two sacks in the first two games but has only 1 1/2 sacks in the last five contests. Smith allowed a sack against Abraham but didn't allow one against Wake. He's been called for three false start penalties. Cincinnati safety Roy Williams, who missed the last three games with a knee injury, is expected to play Monday night.