NOTEBOOK \ Steelers vs. Patriots

Mark the date: Super Bowl XXXIX is Feb. 6 in Jacksonville, Fla. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:18 p.m. and will be televised by FOX.
Baby it's cold outside: Game time temperature was 11 degrees. With the 9-mile per hour wind from the northwest, the wind chill factor was minus-1. The game was the coldest at Heinz Field and third-coldest in Steelers history. The previous Heinz Field low temperature was 21 degrees for the divisional playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens on Jan. 20, 2002. The all-time coldest was 2 degrees at Cincinnati on Dec. 10, 1977.
Long gainers: Tom Brady's 60-yard touchdown pass to Deion Branch in the first quarter was the longest pass play of the season for the Patriots and the longest allowed by the Steelers.
Area connections: New England's quarterbacks coach is Josh McDaniels, the son of Warren Harding High coach Thom McDaniels. Ty Law, New England's defensive back who is on injured reserve, is a native of Aliquippa, Pa. Patriots' punter Josh Miller was released by the Steelers in March after eight seasons. Patriots' outside linebacker Mike Vrabel played for the Steelers from 1997-2000.
Roster notes: Inactives for the Steelers were cornerback Chidi Iwoumo, running back Willie Parker, offensive tackle Barrett Brooks, offensive guard Jim Jones, tight end Matt Kranchick and linebackers Alonzo Jackson and Kendrell Bell. Brian St. Pierre was designated as the third quarterback. New England's inactives were wide receiver Kevin Kasper, cornerbacks Earthwind Moreland and Antwan Harris, running back Cedric Cobbs, tight end Jed Weaver, defensive end Marquise Hill and defensive lineman Richard Seymour. Jim Miller was the third quarterback. The Patriots started Jarvis Green at right defensive end in place of Seymour.
Seeds are growing: Sunday's game marked the third time in the past four years that the top two seeds in the AFC met in the championship game.
Playing like a rookie: Ben Roethlisberger threw only 11 interceptions in 295 pass attempts in the regular season. But, in his last 110 pass attempts, including the playoffs, he threw 10 interceptions.
Yardsticks: Sunday's game was Bill Cowher's fifth conference championship appearance as a coach and the third for New England's Bill Belichick. ... Pittsburgh is 5-7 in AFC title games and New England is 5-0. ... The 31 combined wins by the Steelers (16) and Patriots (15) are the most-ever by competing teams in the AFC Championship Game. The previous record was 30, by Jacksonville and Tennessee (15 each) in 1999. The NFC record is also 31, set by Minnesota (16) and Atlanta (15) in 1998. ... Pittsburgh has hosted the conference championship game nine times, the most of any team. San Francisco is next with eight.
The Vindicator

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