Unbeaten through two weeks, the Pittsburgh Steelers are upset at the number of hits quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is taking after the whistle. They're ready to do something about it today in Philadelphia.
"A lot of us as a line feel we have to protect him a little more outside the whistle," tackle Willie Colon said. "Guys are going to take shots at him and try to knock him down. He makes us run, so if we see stuff like that, we have to ... get after guys who try to do stuff like that. I'm going to be looking for it, especially [today]."
Roethlisberger suffered a slight hyperextended knee on a low, illegal hit by Houston Texans defensive tackle Amobi Okoye (no penalty) in Week 1. He also has a shoulder sprain from one of four sacks he has taken. The Eagles were sackless in a loss to the Dallas Cowboys, when defensive coordinator Jim Johnson reined in his attack defense. Look for more pressure - and some contentiousness - today.
Around the league
It's one thing for a team to start off 0-2 and make the playoffs. Since 1990, 19 teams have turned that trick, including the Super Bowl champion New York Giants last season. But it's another thing to start 0-3 and get to the postseason. Since the salary cap era started 15 years ago, 78 teams started 0-3 and only two - the Buffalo Bills in 1998 and Detroit Lions in 1995 - got to the playoffs. That's why the pressure's on the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks today and the San Diego Chargers tomorrow night. All those teams entered the season with playoff expectations.
After a near-perfect debut, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan had a rude comeuppance in Week 2. In a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Ryan missed his first nine passes and threw two interceptions. ... New England rookie linebacker Jerod Mayo has played every snap for the Patriots. The 10th overall pick in the draft, Mayo starts at inside linebacker in the base 3-4 defense and stays on the field on third down and in goal-line situations. His 16 tackles (coaches' count) are second on the team.
If you catch the Eagles-Steelers game, watch how Philadelphia defends against tight end Heath Miller. The Eagles have given up 12 completions worth 187 yards to tight ends in their first two games, including a seven-catch, 110-yard outing by the Dallas Cowboys' Jason Witten.
The Indianapolis Colts are about to be reminded how valuable safety Bob Sanders is. The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year is out four to six weeks with a high ankle sprain, and he will be replaced by second-year safety Melvin Bullitt. The Colts, who were shredded for an average of 181 rushing yards in the first two weeks, now face the desperate Jaguars. Without Sanders in December 2006, the Jaguars rushed for 375 yards against the Colts. ... Without much of a running game (averaging 39 yards), Peyton Manning has thrown 91 passes. That's 19 more than last year after two weeks, but his 568 yards are 32 fewer than a year ago. Obviously, Manning is still recovering from offseason knee surgery.
Stat of the week
The Giants were making a point last week when Eli Manning threw deep passes nine times in a 41-13 rout of the St. Louis Rams. Manning hit only three plays for 20 yards or longer, but the commitment to go deep was obvious. "You send a message that you are willing to take a chance to throw the ball deep," coach Tom Coughlin said.
Compiled from Sun news services and other NFL beat writers.