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Cowher: Bettis likely to start against Patriots

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis is all but certain to start Sunday in the AFC Championship game against New England.

Last week, coach Bill Cowher tried keeping the New York Jets guessing by not revealing whether Bettis or Duce Staley would start.

Bettis went on to run for 101 yards in a 20-17 overtime victory _ his seventh 100-yard game in seven starts. But Staley, sidelined much of the second half of the season by a sore hamstring, ran the best he has in weeks with 54 yards on 11 carries.

Staley's performance raised questions whether he might return as the starter, but Cowher apparently doesn't want to risk curtailing Bettis' effectiveness by sitting him down early.

Asked Tuesday if Bettis would start, Cowher said, ``Probably.''

But Cowher also said Staley is likely to play more than he did Saturday, when he did not carry the ball until the second half.

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