Steelers say they won't watch scoreboard
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times
Saturday December 26, 2009 05:46 PM
[url="http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sports_details/article/1501/2009/december/26/steelers-say-they-wont-watch-scoreboard.html"]http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sport ... board.html[/url]
PITTSBURGH — As they cling to their playoff lives, the Steelers insist they will not keep an eye on any out-of-town activity.
To a man, they claim that as they battle their archrivals today, they will not gaze up at the Heinz Field scoreboard to see how other wild-card contenders are faring.
"We know it's still up in the air and that other teams have to do this and do that. They are so many scenarios I couldn't even tell you what they are," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “The only thing we can control is winning our games."
“You can’t pay attention to what other people are doing because if we don’t win, it really doesn’t matter,” added free safety Ryan Clark. “So why not just focus on what we've got to do?”
What the Steelers (7-7) have to do is win today against Baltimore (8-6) and then again next Sunday in Miami, and also hope they get help. Even a 9-7 record won’t guarantee the reigning Super Bowl champs a playoff berth.
They need other contenders to lose at least one or even both of their last two games.
But as Roethlisberger and Clark suggested, what Denver (8-6), Miami (7-7), Jacksonville (7-7), Houston (7-7) and the New York Jets (7-7) do won’t matter if the Steelers don’t first beat the Ravens.
“It’s a great story, and we wouldn’t have it any other way,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Obviously, when the season started, we looked at the schedule and knew this was going to be a meaningful game. The game was going to have a huge impact at the end of the year when it counted most.
“And here are. Maybe it’s not the path that we all anticipated. But it’s the path that got us here.”
As of today, the Ravens have a slight tie-breaker edge over Denver. Like the Ravens, the Broncos could clinch a wild-card berth today if they pull off an upset in Philadelphia (10-4) and get help in the form of other wild-card wannabes losing.
“I don’t think you can get anything better than this,” Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said of today’s Baltimore-Pittsburgh showdown. “These are the two teams that you’re always going to talk about to young players, like these are the moments that you live for.
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“You have to grab these moments and go out and play your best football. When you play a team like a Pittsburgh and have the rivalry that we have, it just becomes a classic, classic battle. It’s like we watch the classic games. We can always go back to these games and say, ‘That was a heck of a war that those two teams went through.’”
Last year, the Steelers swept the Ravens in three terrific football games.
In Game 4, the Steelers won 23-20 in overtime in a game highlighted by Lewis shattering the shoulder of rookie running back Rashard Mendenhall with a vicious tackle.
In Game 14, the Steelers won 13-9 in Baltimore when Roethlisberger capped a 92-yard drive with a 4-yard TD pass to Santonio Holmes with 43 seconds left.
Then in the AFC Championship Game, the Steelers didn’t clinch a trip to Super Bowl until Troy Polamalu returned an interception for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to make it 23-14.
Then on Nov. 29 of this season, the Ravens edged the Steelers, 20-17 in OT.
“They have their personality. We have ours. And when the two come together, it’s always pretty exciting,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “We’re fired up about that. We’re fired up about getting the opportunity to play in front of our home fans again. We’re fired up about having a pulse in this thing.”
“It’s good for football,” Clark said of the rivalry and the stakes riding today at Heinz Field.
“It’s going to be physical, and I think every player respects that. I really believe these teams have a healthy respect for each other, even though some people try to make out as hate. I think it will be well-coached and well played, and because of the stakes, that will only make it better.”
“I don’t know what’s going on throughout the rest of the league. I don’t know who has to win or who has to lose. All I know is what we have to win,” defensive end Brett Keisel said. “That’s my only focus. It’s the same as a playoff game for us. We have to win to give ourselves a chance to live another day.”
Mike Bires can be reached online at [email="firstname.lastname@example.org"]email@example.com[/email].