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Steelers-Browns matchup of the day: Thursday

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Posted Dec. 30, 2010 @ 9:40 a.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

Here's a matchup to watch in Sunday's Steelers-Browns game.

Steelers WRs Mike Wallace and Hines Ward vs. Browns CBs Joe Haden and Sheldon Brown

Wallace is one of the game's premier deep threats, as the Browns were reminded of in the first meeting. He scored the Steelers' first touchdown on a 29-yard pass from QB Ben Roethlisberger, who beat a Browns blitz (and took a hit from OLB Matt Roth) and hit Wallace with a strike. Later, Wallace set up the Steelers' second TD with a 50-yard catch when he ran by rookie S T.J. Ward. If Roethlisberger would have hit Wallace in stride, he might have scored a 96-yard touchdown. 

Wallace is also dangerous on shorter routes, as he showed last week vs. Carolina, when he took a quick-hitting pass from Roethlisberger and sprinted away for a 43-yard TD. If Wallace gets a step on his opposition, good luck catching him. 

Haden, who's tied for the AFC lead in interceptions with six, matches up best with Wallace. Haden has very good athleticism and ball skills. This could be a premier individual matchup in AFC North play for years to come. 

Ward, who caught five passes for 54 yards in the first meeting with Cleveland, beat yet another Browns blitz when he caught a short pass over the middle, broke one tackle attempt, bounced off another and scored a TD. The tough, physical Brown matches up better with Ward than Wallace. 

Another Steelers wideout to watch is rookie Emmanuel Sanders, who has become a bigger part of the offense in the second half of the season. He has good quickness. 

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