New England (12-5) at Pittsburgh (14-3) What: AFC...

January 27, 2002

New England (12-5) at Pittsburgh (14-3)

What: AFC championship game.

Time: 12:30 p.m., chs. 13, 9.

Line: Steelers by 10.

Vs. spread: Patriots 11-5; Steelers 12-4.

Vs. common opponents: Patriots 4-2; Steelers 5-1.

Series: Steelers lead 12-5.

Last meeting: Patriots won, 23-9, at Pittsburgh on Dec. 6, 1998.

Last week: Patriots beat Raiders, 16-13, in OT at New England; Steelers beat Ravens, 27-10, at Pittsburgh.

Postseason records: Patriots 8-10; Steelers 22-16.

Coaches: Bill Belichick, second season with Patriots, seventh overall, 54-61. Bill Cowher, 10th season with Steelers, 105-67.

Quick hits: Patriots are 10th team to start 0-2 and win their division. The last two teams to accomplish the feat, 1993 Cowboys and 1996 Patriots, went to the Super Bowl. ... QB Tom Brady is 12-3 as a starter. He had a team playoff-record 312 yards passing last week. ... Patriots' defense has allowed two TDs in opponents' past 11 red-zone trips. ... Steelers are playing in 11th AFC championship game, second most behind Raiders' 13. They need one win to match Raiders for AFC-most 23 playoff wins. ... Steelers are 14-6 in home playoff games, but have lost two of their past three AFC title games in Pittsburgh.

Injuries:

PATRIOTS: Probable: RB Antowain Smith (leg).

STEELERS: Questionable: ILB Earl Holmes (knee). Probable: FB Jon Witman (foot).

Statistical comparison:(Regular-season per-game averages)

Offense Patriots Steelers

Points 23.2 22

First downs 18.3 19.6, Yards rushing 112.1 173.3

Yards passing 193.1 194.6

Total yards 305.2 367.9, Sacks 2.9 1.9

Turnovers 1.8 1.4

Defense Patriots Steelers

Points 17 13.3

First downs 18.9 15.9, Yards rushing 115.9 74.7

Yards passing 218.6 183.9

Total yards 334.5 258.6

Sacks 2.5 3.4

Turnovers 2.2 1.8

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