The Pittsburgh Steelers head into their Sunday game against the Cleveland Browns looking to get their 12th win of the season. With a little help from the Cincinnati Bengals, they could get a first round bye as well should they take care of the Browns. This is the final regular season game of 2011, so there are also a few milestones in reach for a few Steelers players in this upcoming. Let\’s have a look at a few obvious and not so obvious ones and the chances each player has at reaching them.
Hines Ward – You would have to be hiding underneath a rock to not know that Ward needs just five receptions Sunday to reach 1,000 for his career. He would become the eighth player in NFL history to reach the 1,000 reception mark and would also become just the second player in NFL history to reach the 1,000 career receptions mark and win multiple Super Bowls. Jerry Rice is the only other player to do that. Look for Ward to be involved early with a few high percentage bubble screen passes with a shovel pass mixed in. The longer the game rolls on, the more he will be keyed on.
Mike Wallace – The Steelers Pro Bowl wide receiver needs just 18 receiving yards to reach 1,200 yards this season. He should easily get it Sunday against the Browns and that would make him the first Steelers player since 1960 to record back-to-back seasons with at least 1,200 receiving yards. It will also be only the ninth time in the history of the Steelers franchise that a player recorded 1,200 or more receiving yards in one season. He will also tie Yancey Thigpen for the most 1,200 yard receiving seasons in Steelers history with two. Should he get 76 yards receiving on Sunday, he will top his 2010 season of 1,257 receiving yards. That is certainly well within his reach.
Antonio Brown – The Steelers team MVP needs just 82 receiving yards to reach 1,100 on the season. If he gets it, he and Wallace will become just the third Steelers wide receiver duo since 1960 to each have at least 1,100 receiving yards in the same season. Ward and Plaxico Burress did it in 2002 and Ward and Santonio Holmes did it in 2009. This milestone is also well within reach the way Brown has been playing.
Ben Roethlisberger – Big Ben needs just 144 passing yards to reach 4,000 on the season and it would be the second time he has reached that mark in his career as he had 4,328 in 2009. Should he indeed start and get the win, it would be the 80th of his career in just his 113th career start. He would become just the fourth quarterback who began his career in the Super Bowl era to reach 80 wins in 113 or fewer starts at the position. The other three were Tom Brady, Roger Staubach and Ken Stabler. Both of these milestones are well within reach.
Heath Miller – Miller passed Elbie Nickel in the game against the San Francisco 49ers to become the all-time leading receiver among tight ends in Steelers history. He needs just two receptions on Sunday to surpass Steelers Hall of Famer Lynn Swann for the fourth most receptions in Steelers history, and with 79 yards receiving he will pass Ray Matthews for eighth place on the Steelers all-time receiving yards list. Matthews compiled 3,919 yards from 1951-59. The two recptions should be easy, but he might have to wait until 2012 to pass Matthews.
Rashard Mendenhall – Mendenhall is 110 rushing yards short of 1,000 on the season. It would make his 3rd consecutive season with 1,000 or more. He would become the 4th Steelers running back since 1960 to register at least three consecutive 1,000 plus yard rushing seasons. With just 15 rushing yards against the Browns, he will pass Walter Abercrombie for the ninth most career rushing yards in Steelers franchise history. The 15 yards is a slam dunk, but the 110 for the game will require him to break a few big runs as he certainly will not play the entire game.
Troy Polamalu – Polamalu enters the game with 2 career fumble returns for touchdowns. Should he get one against the Browns he will tie Jason Gildon for the most fumbles returned for touchdowns in franchise history. Either a fumble return or interception for a touchdown would move Polamalu into a four way tie for the second-most defensive touchdowns in Steelers history with 5. This is a coin flip here, but neither is out of the question.
James Harrison – Harrison needs just one sack against the Browns to reach 10 on the season. He would become the first Steelers player to accomplish that feat since sacks became an official statistic in 1982. Should he record 3 sacks on Sunday, he would become just the second Steelers player to register at least three sacks three times in one season since Mike Merriweather did it in 1984. A 3 sack game would be the sixth of his career as well and he would pass Joey Porter for the most 3 plus sack games during the regular season by a Steelers player since sacks became an official stat. Harrison is going up against Browns left tackle Joe Thomas, so getting 1 sack would be good and certainly obtainable, if he gets 3 against Thomas, Roger Goodell would likely have him tested for performance enhancing drugs.