QB Kordell Stewart threw three interceptions in his only other action against the Buccaneers, during a 1998 visit to Raymond James Stadium
The following notes are excerpted from information released to the Pittsburgh Steelers' media:
The Steelers boast the NFL's top-ranked defense after Week 5. Pittsburgh leads the NFL in total defense (239 yards-per-game) and passing defense (143.3 avg.), and is 11th (95.8 avg.) versus the run.
The Steelers' starters on defense feature a mixture of young veterans and one rookie, and average 5.9 years of NFL experience.
This year's Steel Curtain has a chance to lead the NFL in total defense and pass defense for the first time since 1990, when the Steelers led the NFL in both categories, yielding 257.2 total yards and 156.3 passing yards per game. Pittsburgh last led the NFL in rushing defense in 1997 (82.4 avg.).
In the Red Zone
The Steelers are 16th in the AFC and 30th in the NFL in touchdown percentage (22.2 percent) once they have crossed their opponent's 20-yard line. The Steelers completed their first touchdown pass of the season during their only possession inside the Kansas City Chiefs' 20-yard line in Week 5
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Red Zone Defense
The Steelers defense is tied for 10th in the AFC and tied for 19th in the NFL in touchdown percentage allowed (57.1 percent) once the opposition has crossed Pittsburgh's 20-yard line. In Week 5, the Steelers allowed the Kansas City Chiefs to score a touchdown during their only possession inside the Pittsburgh 20.
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The Steelers lead the NFL with 192.0 yards rushing per game and 5.73 yards-per-carry. Since Bill Cowher was named head coach in 1992, the Steelers have rushed for more yards than any other team, led the NFL in rushing twice (1994 and '97), finished in the top five on five separate occasions and in the top 10 eight times.
Pittsburgh has gained 20,010 yards rushing on 4,792 attempts (4.2 avg.) during the Cowher era, and is the only team in the NFL to surpass 20,000 yards during that time.
The Steelers' 5.73 rushing average is .01 yards-per-rush shy of the NFL single-season record. The Cleveland Browns set the current NFL record with 5.74 yards-per-carry in 1963. The next highest average is 5.65 yards set by the San Francisco 49ers in 1954.
Following is a year-by-year breakdown of the Steelers' team rushing statistics since 1992:
Cowher vs. The NFL
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of only three teams in the NFL that Bill Cowher has not defeated during his career as a head coach.
Cowher's 14 wins against the Cincinnati Bengals are his most against any team in the NFL.
Tough in the Clutch
The Steelers under Bill Cowher have been very successful in close games. During the regular season, the Steelers are 30-20 (.600) in games decided by seven points or less; 17-11 (.607) in games decided by three points or less; and 4-2 (.667) in games decided by one point.
Bettis vs. Buccaneers
Jerome Bettis will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for only the third time in his career, and the second time with the Steelers. In two games, Bettis has gained 86 yards on 30 carries (2.9 avg.) and has yet to score a touchdown.
Stewart vs. Tampa Bay
Kordell Stewart will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for only the second time in his career. In Stewart's only game versus the Buccaneers, he completed nine-of-21 passes for 88 yards and three interceptions.
Hard-hitting rookie inside linebacker Kendrell Bell became the first Steelers rookie linebacker to start his first NFL game in 27 years.
The last Steelers linebacker to start the season-opening game of his rookie season was Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Lambert, who started against the Baltimore Colts on Sept. 15, 1974, four years before Bell was born.
After injuring his ankle in Week 1, Bell has rebounded to record 27 tackles and three sacks in the team's next three games. His three sacks rank second on the team behind defensive end Aaron Smith (four).
Bell was the Steelers' second-round selection (39th overall) this past April, and the second linebacker chosen in the 2000 NFL Draft. Lambert was also selected in the second round, 46th overall.
Cornering The Market
Dewayne Washington and Chad Scott are one of the NFL's top cornerback duos.
After three games, Scott has three interceptions and leads the NFL with 149 return yards, including a 61-yard interception return for his first career touchdown in Week 5 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Scott also returned an interception 62 yards in Week 3 at Buffalo. His three interceptions are two shy of his career-high five set in 2000.
Washington returned a fumble 63 yards for the seventh touchdown of his career — his third with the Steelers in Week 3 against the Bills — and recorded a team-high four pass defenses versus Kansas City in Week 5. Washington has led or tied for the team lead in interceptions during all three seasons he has played for the Steelers. Washington tied a career-high and tied Scott for the team lead with five interceptions in 2000.
Washington has 24 career interceptions and returned five for touchdowns. He has intercepted 14 passes with the Steelers and tied and NFL record by returning two for scores in the same game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Nov. 22, 1998. Washington has also returned two fumbles for touchdowns during his career.
Wide receiver Hines Ward is off to the best start of his career. Ward has caught 28 passes for 267 yards (9.5 avg.) in four games, including nine receptions, a career high, in Week 3 against the Buffalo Bills.
Ward caught a career-high 61 passes for 638 yards in 1999. He is currently tied for 18th with Dwight Stone on the Steelers' all-time receiving list with 152 receptions for 1,823 yards (12.0 avg.) and 12 touchdowns. He needs 11 receptions to tie Lynn Chandnois (163) for 15th place in team history.