• Team president Art Rooney II gave coach Mike Tomlin a mandate to improve the running game, and Tomlin's offense did just that. The Steelers improved from a No. 19 ranking in rushing in 2009 (112.1 yards per game) to No. 11 this season (120.2). Rushes per game increased from 26.8 to 29.4. The Steelers struck a perfect balance between the run and pass. They averaged only a fraction more passes per game at 29.9. Last year, the Steelers averaged nearly seven more passes per game (33.5).
• Veteran receiver Hines Ward addressed the offense making better use of time of possession this season. The Steelers ranked No. 5 in time of possession (32:24) compared with a No. 2 ranking (32:52) in 2009. "Our passing game is different from last year," Ward said. "Last year, (Santonio Holmes) was over 1,000 yards receiving, I was over 1,000 yards. Heath Miller had nearly 80 catches (76). We were tearing it up. We just didn't complement our defense. We have to make sure we didn't leave our defense on the field too long." When the Steelers won Super Bowl XL, Ward said, "we didn't have any 1,000 yards guys, but we were very efficient."
• The Steelers have recent history against each of next week's potential playoff opponents: Baltimore, Indianapolis and Kansas City. The Steelers played Baltimore twice this season, losing, 17-14, at Heinz Field and winning, 13-10, in Baltimore. In December 2008, the Steelers lost to Indianapolis, 24-20, at Heinz Field. Last season, the Stelers lost to the Chiefs, 27-24, in overtime in Kansas City, Mo.
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