STEELERS Cowher relishes facing best coaches



The Pittsburgh coach has a 9-6 record against Parcells, Belichick and Reid.
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Successful football teams often welcome the challenging of facing other top teams. Given Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher's record against others at the top of his field, apparently that goes for good coaches, too.
The Steelers, off to a surprising 4-1 start, take on Bill Parcells' Cowboys (2-2), Bill Belichick's Patriots (4-0) and Andy Reid's Eagles (4-0) in their next three games -- three challenging opponents and three challenging coaches.
Despite Cowher's 1-4 record in championship games -- he is 1-3 in AFC title games and 0-1 in the Super Bowl -- he often has been at his personal best against other top coaches during his 13-season career.
Cowher's record against the last five coaches to win the Super Bowl -- Belichick, Tampa Bay's Jon Gruden, Baltimore's Brian Billick and St. Louis' Mike Martz -- is 16-10, counting postseason games.
He has a 9-6 record against the coaches of his next three opponents, a group that includes two of the NFL's three remaining unbeaten teams, the Patriots, Eagles and Jets. Cowher is 7-4 against Belichick, including a 3-0 record in the 1994 season; 2-1 against Parcells, and 0-1 against Reid.
Respect
Cowher insists he doesn't get extra motivated when one of the NFL's top coaches is on the opposing sidelines. But he says he can't help but be challenged by going against a coach as accomplished as Parcells, a two-time Super Bowl winner with the Giants.
"I think of all the coaches in the league, I look up to him as much as anyone," Cowher said. "I think what he has accomplished, how he handles things, I've learned a lot watching him. If you watch other people, you can learn a lot, I think, in any profession."
The Steelers can start 5-1 for only the third time under Cowher if they can win in Dallas, where they haven't played since a 20-10 Steelers loss in 1991. Cowher- and Parcells-coached teams have not met since the Patriots beat the Steelers 28-3 in a January 1997 playoff game.
Others
Cowher is 2-0 against Gruden, 7-5 against Billick and 1-1 against the now-retired Jimmy Johnson, but has losing records against Denver's Mike Shanahan (1-2), former 49ers and Panthers coach George Seifert (1-2), Martz (0-1), former Dallas coach Barry Switzer (0-3) and Seattle coach Mike Holmgren (1-4).
Cowher has yet to face a Joe Gibbs-coached team, though the Steelers and Redskins will play Nov. 28.
Cowher's teams are 3-4 when facing a Super Bowl winner in that particular season, including the loss to Switzer's Cowboys in the January 1996 Super Bowl. The Steelers beat the Buccaneers (2002), Ravens (2000 season) and Broncos (1997 season) during seasons they won the Super Bowl.
Parcells' Cowboys will be coming off a 26-10 loss at home to the division rival New York Giants, which makes Cowher ever the more wary of playing them this week.
"He [Parcells] and I are not playing, but I think his football teams are always very, very prepared," Cowher said. "Coming off a tough loss, there is no question this is going to be a tough game for us."

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