Snow a non-factor in Pittsburgh

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

A frosty glaze transformed many of the normally bright yellow seats at Heinz Field into an off-beige colour yesterday, a harbinger of the frigid conditions that will greet the combatants in the AFC championship game. Bitter cold. Biting winds. Maybe even some flurries to supplement the predicted10 centimetres of snow that supposedly will be dumped on Steeltown tonight, a predicted storm that caused the New England Patriots to fly here a day early.

The perfect recipe for Pittsburgh Steelers football, right?

Maybe not.

"Remember, we're playing New England,"Steelers coach Bill Cowher said yesterday. "We may be less prepared (for the weather) than they are.

"Weather should not be a factor."

Maybe not in terms of an advantage for either team.

But with temperatures dipping to about minus -14C at the 6:30 p.m. kickoff, it might dictate how the game is played.

The Steelers prescribe to a grinding running game anyway with Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley leading the way, but the Pats may find themselves relying less on the arm of quarterback Tom Brady and more on the legs of running back Corey Dillon. Such a game plan worked to perfection during the Pats 20-3 win over the Colts last weekend, a victory in which Dillon romped for 144 yards on the snowy Gillette Stadium turf.

"I don't see the conditions as (a hindrance)," Bettis said. "I'm a mudder. A fast track doesn't really help me. I'm pretty heavy so I sink in a bit.

"If you see me sliding I'm on my way down."


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