Carter has played well in Polamalu's absence. It's hard to dislike the 10 points the defense has allowed in the three games without him. And, hard as it is to admit, this has been a pretty down year for Troy. That being said, his presence in the game creates an element of confusion that they're going to need to generate to have any hope of slowing Brady.
Last I checked though, Deshea Townsend will still be starting. He, course, had a nice pick-six in the Steelers last victory over New England in 2004.
Given the choice, I'd rather have a healthy Santonio for this game than Polamalu. As the video shows, a big threat receiver like Plaxico (notice how well he plays when it's not a playoff game?) is key to stretching their defense to open a running game that's been less than dominating the last month. In the Steelers last meeting with the Pats in 2005, Parker was held to 55 yards on 17 carries. People are making a fuss that he'll get a chance to run on dry FieldTurf again. The dry turf in the Meadowlands didn't do him a shitload of good. Fewer assurances of less fumbling and slipping and more output from FWP is going to go far in determining how far this team goes.
Thanks to FanHouse for the YouTubage.