Faulk starts in Dillon's place

Updated: October 31, 2004, 5:37 PM ET
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- New England Patriots running back Corey Dillon was scratched from Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers with a thigh injury, and Pro Bowl cornerback Ty Law left in the first quarter with a foot injury.

Dillon, coming off consecutive 100-yard games, went into the day sixth in the NFL with 637 yards rushing and is averaging 106.1 yards a game. He had two 100-yard games in 13 previous games against the Steelers, all with Cincinnati, but was held to 60 yards or fewer in each of his previous four starts against them.

Law, one of the NFL's premier pass defenders, was injured slipping on the Heinz Field turf, which is showing bare spots not even halfway through the NFL season. Immediately after Law was lifted, Ben Roethlisberger threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress with Randall Gay, Law's replacement, in coverage.

The Patriots already were without their other starting cornerback, Tyrone Poole, who sat out a second consecutive game with an injured knee.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick downplayed Dillon's injury on Friday, saying Dillon was "fine" and probable -- meaning he had a 75 percent chance of playing. Dillon was downgraded to questionable later in the day.

Kevin Faulk, a sixth-year running back from LSU, replaced Dillon. Faulk had 43 yards on 11 carries and a 3.9 average in three games this season.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press