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Steelers-Browns matchup of the day: Friday

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Posted Dec. 31, 2010 @ 10:32 p.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

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

Steelers ROLB James Harrison and LOLB LaMarr Woodley vs. Browns OLT Joe Thomas and ORT John St. Clair 

In the first matchup with Cleveland in Week Six, Harrison was exceptionally disruptive, notching 11 tackles and two sacks and a forced fumble. He also knocked WRs Joshua Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi out of the game with concussions and was later fined $75,000 for his hit on Massaquoi.

Harrison, who has notched 94 tackles and 10½ sacks in 2010, is strong and explosive, and he plays with excellent leverage. His one-on-one battles with Thomas, who, like Harrison, was named a Pro Bowl starter this week, are ones to watch. The athletic Thomas does everything well.

Woodley, who racked up 1½ sacks in the first meeting with Cleveland, is far from easy to block, either. He poses a tough matchup for St. Clair. Woodley, like Harrison, is above average vs. the run, as well.

The Steelers sacked rookie QB Colt McCoy six times in the first matchup. To avoid a similar fate this time, the Browns will need to be collectively sound in pass protection. McCoy will have to know what he's seeing at the line of scrimmage and make the necessary changes to his pass protection as needed. Also, he can't hold on to the ball too long, not against this defense with its many blitzes. Even if the Steelers don't blitz, the prospect of blocking Harrison and Woodley is a tremendous challenge for any set of offensive tackles. 

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