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FOR BILLS AND STEELERS, TO PLAY'S THE THING

If ever there were two teams anxious to get back on the field, they are the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers. They get their wish today at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The Bills are looking forward to wiping away the memory of last Sunday's 42-26 loss at Indianapolis.

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning threw for 421 yards and four touchdowns against a Bills defense that has yielded 856 yards, 610 passing yards and 66 points in two games.

Not surprisingly, Buffalo is last in the NFL in total defense and pass defense and last overall in the AFC East.

The Bills are hoping for continued improvement from their offense, which showed signs of life last week. However, there is concern about the condition of a banged-up offensive line with starting tackles John Fina and Jonas Jennings big question marks.

In addition, wide receiver Eric Moulds is playing at less than 100 percent with a sprained left shoulder.

As much as the Bills are seeking redemption, the Steelers are just happy to play again. With the games of Sept. 16-17 postponed because of the terrorist attacks and their regularly scheduled bye week, the Steelers haven't played in three weeks.

With 21 days off, the longest in a non-strike season in team history, the Steelers are looking for more out of an offense that managed just a field goal in a 21-3 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 9.

The Bills are facing a Steelers offense that relies heavily on the running of Jerome Bettis. Stopping him is first on the Bills' minds today, but they are wary of the threat quarterback Kordell Stewart poses with both his arm and legs.

The Bills' offense showed some life against the Colts but will be challenged by a Steelers defense that is more stout than the one Buffalo saw in Indy.

It should also be noted that this is the first regular-season meeting between the teams since Bills President and General Manager Tom Donahoe was let go by the Steelers.

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

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