'A healthy Troy Polamalu is hell for opposing teams'

Grant Halverson

The Steelers hold teams to nearly five points a game less when Polamalu starts. He's tortured the Titans since 2009, making highlight-worthy plays in multiple games. Polamalu will lead the Steelers against Tennessee in the season opener Sunday.

The eyes of Steeler Nation will be upon No. 43 when the Steelers face the Tennessee Titans in Week 1 Sunday.

Odds are outstanding the Titans will have their eyes fixated on Troy Polamalu as well. The plays he's made against this team over the years dot through his Hall of Fame highlight reel - a leaping-while-turning interception in 2009, the over-the-center-and-guard leap that netted a tackle-for-loss of quarterback Kerry Collins in 2010 are the two biggest.

No highlight-worthy play from Polamalu in last year's 26-23 loss. He didn't play in that game.

Polamalu on the field equals good for the Steelers, but in the words of cornerback Ike Taylor, it's more about it being bad for their opponents.

"A healthy Troy is hell for opposing teams," Taylor told ESPN's Scott Brown. The article points out the nearly five point difference in points allowed when Polamalu starts (15) and when he doesn't (20) since 2009. The Titans scored 26 last year, when he didn't play. They scored 11 in 2010 - Polamalu's Defensive Player of the Year season - and 10 in 2009. They exploded for 17 points in 2011 (losing the game 38-17).

It's not just the Titans, but they could be the opponent Polamalu tortures the most, regardless of roster or quarterback.

Polamalu and the Steelers will get their first look at Jake Locker Sunday, the Titans first-round pick in 2011. Locker hasn't been overly impressive so far in his career, with much of that likely be attributed to his inexperience. His athleticism, particularly his mobility, make him a dangerous player.

Just perhaps not as dangerous as a healthy Polamalu.

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