NOTEBOOK From Heinz Field
Grand day: The Steelers have a pair of 1,000-yard receivers for the first time in franchise history. Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress achieved the statistical milestone on successive completions in the third quarter. Ward finished with 1,003 yards after a 7-yard completion from Tommy Maddox and a 25-yard completion put Burress at 1,008. "This is the year the Steelers have a 1,000-yard rusher, a 3,000-yard passer and to top it off with two receivers getting over 1,000 yards is really big," Ward said. "It topped off a great year." If nothing else, the accomplishment should prove the Steelers have a balanced offense. "People think we can just run the football," Burress said. "We have a 1,000-yard back, a 3,000-yard quarterback and two outside guys with 1,000 yards. That's why we're 13-3."
Short of the goal: Most preseason predictions had the Steelers, who were 9-7 a year ago, somewhere around .500. The most optimistic projections had them in a scramble for a wild card playoff spot. Their 13-3 mark is second best in franchise history, falling short only of the 14-2 record of the 1978 team that won the third of Pittsburgh's four Super Bowl championships. Jason Gildon said he knew a big season was imminent once training camp ended, even if a 21-3 loss to Jacksonville in the opener didn't signal that. "A friend of mine asked me how many games we were going to win and I told him we were going to win 14," Gildon said. "So we actually won 13 and I can't be disappointed with that."
Same plan: The Steelers lost in overtime in Cincinnati a week earlier, allowing Jon Kitna to throw for 411 yards. Things were back to normal against the Browns as the defense hounded Couch and held the Browns to 105 yards passing. The performance in Cincinnati didn't inspire major changes, except in execution. Defensive coordinator Tim Lewis said the Steelers stayed with their usual plan. "We just played better," Lewis said. "[Cincinnati] played just as good as they could play and we played just as average as we could play." There was a sense of urgency to get things fixed in the last game before the playoffs. "Our players thought we should have won the Cincinnati game," Lewis said. "We didn't deserve to win it but they thought they could have and should have won the game. They did everything they had to do this past week in practice to make sure that same thing didn't happen this week."
Hash marks: The Steelers' best record was 14-2 in 1978, the third of their four Super Bowl-winning seasons. ... The Steelers were 4-4 last season at Three Rivers Stadium ... Longtime Steelers C Dermontti Dawson was honored during an on-field ceremony. He was cut in a salary-cap move last spring following two injury filled seasons, then retired after 13 years -- all with Pittsburgh. ... The Steelers were the only AFC Central team Cleveland didn't beat. The Browns beat them twice while winning only five games in 1999 and 2000. ... The Browns' three interceptions set a team record of 33, with rookie Anthony Henry making 10.
-- Associated Press