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September 30, 2010

Big NFL Games in Week 4

BALTIMORE RAVENS (2-1) at PITTSBURGH STEELERS (3-0) (Sunday, CBS, 1 PM ET)                

The 3-0 Pittsburgh Steelers will host the 2-1 Baltimore Ravens in a clash between two of the top teams in the AFC North. 

Last week, the Steelers returned to Tampa Bay’s Raymond James Stadium for the first time since winning Super Bowl XLIII and defeated the Buccaneers 38-13.  Quarterback CHARLIE BATCH completed 70.6 percent of his passes (12 of 17) and tossed three touchdowns to lead the way. 

“He played like a veteran,” Steelers coach MIKE TOMLIN said about his quarterback after the game.  “He didn’t blink.  He’s been a consummate professional and team player, and good things usually happen for these kinds of people.” 

Pittsburgh wide receiver MIKE WALLACE had touchdown receptions of 46 and 41 yards in the victory and became the first Steeler with two TD catches of at least 40 yards in the same game since 1988 (LOUIS LIPPS).  It was one of many strong performances by a team that is focused on winning and playing well in all three phases of the game. 

“The team camaraderie is growing stronger and we believe in each other,” says Steelers linebacker LAWRENCE TIMMONS.  “Nothing is impossible if we do it all together, and that’s what we are doing.” 

The Ravens improved to 2-1 last week with a 24-17 win in the team’s home opener.  Wide receiver ANQUAN BOLDIN had eight receptions for 142 yards and three touchdowns in his first game in front of his new home crowd.  Boldin joined Pro Football Hall of Famer JAMES LOFTON (1978) and TERRELL OWENS (2004) as the only players in NFL history with three touchdown receptions in the first home game of a season with a new team

“It felt great and the crowd was unbelievable,” says Boldin, who caught his 600th career pass in his 98th game, becoming the fastest to reach the milestone in league history.  “To be able to go out and have a performance like that, it feels good.”

Ravens head coach JOHN HARBAUGH was impressed with the receiver’s performance but not surprised.

“Anquan Boldin showed us why we wanted him to be a Raven,” says Harbaugh.  “He’s our kind of guy.”

WASHINGTON REDSKINS (1-2) at PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (2-1) (Sunday, FOX, 4:15 PM ET)                

The quarterbacks will be on center stage when these two NFC East rivals meet on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

Washington quarterback DONOVAN McNABB will return to Philadelphia and face the Eagles for the first time in his career.  McNabb, the second overall pick by the Eagles in the 1999 NFL Draft, holds numerous team records, including wins (92), attempts (4,746), completions (2,801), passing yards (32,873), passing touchdowns (216) and games played by a QB (148).  He was selected to six Pro Bowls during his time in Philadelphia and led the Eagles to five NFC Championship games and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIX.

“I think the world of Donovan,” says Philadelphia head coach ANDY REID about his former quarterback.  “And the legacy that he left here will be a legacy that lasts forever.  We all have a special place for Donovan in our hearts.”

In Philadelphia, MICHAEL VICK has led the Eagles to two consecutive wins after taking over as the starting quarterback.  He leads the NFC with a 110.2 passer rating and tops all NFL QBs with 170 rushing yards.  Vick has accounted for seven touchdowns – six passing and one rushing. 

“The biggest thing about Mike is that he’s been in this situation before and he’s had these opportunities,” says Eagles wide receiver DeSEAN JACKSON, who had 153 receiving yards and a touchdown last week.  “He’s worked so hard to get back to where he needs to be.”

In Philadelphia’s Week 3 win at Jacksonville, Vick threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns for a 119.2 passer rating and rushed for 30 yards and another TD.  In just his second start at quarterback for the Eagles, Vick threw three touchdowns and ran for one – by comparison, McNabb only had three such games in 142 starts, RANDALL CUNNINGHAM did it twice in 107 starts and RON JAWORSKI accomplished the feat once in 137 starts.  

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (2-1) at MIAMI DOLPHINS (2-1) (Monday, ESPN, 8:30 PM ET)      

The Monday night game will feature two of the three teams tied atop the AFC East with 2-1 records.  Entering Week 4, the Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and New York Jets have all won two of their first three games. 

The Patriots are coming off a 38-30 victory over the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium.  New England quarterback TOM BRADY threw three touchdown passes and won his 22nd consecutive start at home, tying Pro Football Hall of Famer JOHN ELWAY for the second-longest streak in NFL history (BRETT FAVRE, 25).  The veteran quarterback is looking forward to the challenge of facing a division opponent on the road on national TV. 

“As I play more, I really enjoy these Monday night games because they are special games and you’re usually playing a big opponent,” says Brady.  “We’re playing a good opponent on the road with a lot of build-up.”

The Dolphins will play their second consecutive national primetime game.  Last week, Miami dropped a 31-23 decision to the Jets on Sunday night.  In the losing effort, Dolphins quarterback CHAD HENNE passed for a career-high 363 yards with two touchdowns and wide receiver BRANDON MARSHALL had 10 catches for 166 yards and a score. 

“It was a fun atmosphere to play in,” Marshall said after the game.  “The crowd was awesome.  I’m disappointed we couldn’t get them the win.”

With the Patriots coming to town this Monday, Marshall and the Dolphins will have another chance to get the home crowd a victory in a much-anticipated AFC East matchup.

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