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costanza2k1
12-17-2008, 08:08 AM
Steelers' comebacks bad for heart, good for record
By F. Dale Lolley, Staff writer

dlolley@observer-reporter.com

PITTSBURGH - Despite playing arguably the NFL's most difficult schedule, the Steelers are 11-3 and heading to Tennessee to face the 12-2 Titans Sunday with a chance to gain control of the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.

The Steelers are a confident team.


Eight of Pittsburgh's 14 games have been decided by a touchdown or less and the Steelers have won six of those games, including five in which they either came from behind or won in overtime.

"I just think more than anything, it prepares you for January football because there are going to be close games in January," said head coach Mike Tomlin, the first coach in Steelers history to win division titles in his first two seasons.

"We're battle tested, if you will, because we've been able to win quite a few of them. I think it strengthens your team; it strengthens your resolve."

The Steelers have played nine teams that have a .500 or better record and have a 6-3 record. Most of those games have been close. Pittsburgh had blowout wins over Houston and New England and suffered an eight-point loss at Philadelphia in games decided by more than a touchdown.

"There's a mentality that you can deliver by having the experience of delivering and closing out football games, particularly tight ones, and playing from behind," Tomlin said. "I think we're better for the experience."

That would seem to be the case.

The Steelers have won their last five games, including fourth-quarter comebacks against Dallas and Baltimore.


Deshea Townsend's interception return for a touchdown in the closing minutes beat the Cowboys after the offense rallied for 10 fourth quarter points. Ben Roethlisberger led a 92-yard touchdown drive in the final three minutes against the Ravens.

Tomlin feels the Steelers' ability to not panic has been crucial.

"I think that when two teams are close, your ability to not ride the emotional roller coaster through success and failure through the course of a game ultimately decides the outcome," he said. "You've just got to continue on and live one snap at a time, see it with great clarity, so you can make corrections along the way. The team that does that generally puts itself in position to make the significant play in the end."

When you continue to have success in those type of situations, it's easier to expect it to happen again.

"One of the things we've talked about and focused (on) is, ultimately, we'll be measured how we deal with success," Tomlin said. "Our ability to stay humble, grounded. It's helped by the fact that after each one of those wins, we've been faced by another steep challenge. And that comes this week in the form of the Tennessee Titans. It's easy to stay focused when you just turn that tape on and watch our opponent. You'll quickly realize we have a tall order in front of us."

Odds and end zones

Tomlin said defensive end Brett Keisel will try to return this week. Keisel has missed the past three games with a sprained MCL. Offensive tackle Marvel Smith (back) is out. ... Tomlin refused to reveal whether he would have kicked a field goal to tie the game against Baltimore or gone for the winning score on fourth down if Santonio Holmes had not been credited with a touchdown reception.

Djfan
12-17-2008, 10:13 AM
My cardiologist wants me to become a Lions fan.