Nobody needs to walk around the Steelers’ locker room and tell the players how important this Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals is.
“Everyone knows what is on the line,” said linebacker LaMarr Woodley. “We put ourselves in a situation where we still are in control of what happens. We just have to go out there now and win football games.”
There are no pep talks required, no reminders of where the Steelers are in the standings.
Every player gets it. They understand what this game means.
“Right now it’s do or die and we want to make it to the playoffs so everybody is locked in and focused on the task at hand and has to play with a great sense of urgency,” said safety Will Allen. “It’s important for the organization and for every individual in the building because we have high expectations.
“I am excited about the opportunity. I think we all should be. We should be excited about being in this type of environment. That is what football is all about, being in the hunt and we are here.”
In order to remain in the playoff hunt, the Steelers have to defeat the Bengals. It won’t guarantee them a playoff spot, but winning is a must.
“The next two games are like playoff games, but if we don’t win this one the next one won’t be a playoff game,” said linebacker Larry Foote. “If we lose we aren’t going to get where we want to be.
“Everyone knows it, especially the older guys. The younger guys have followed suit through the course of the season and they know how much this game means.”
The Steelers enter the game with a 7-7 record and if the season ended today would not make the playoffs. But a win this week and next, and the Baltimore Ravens losing their next two games, they actually could still have a shot at winning the AFC North.
“Everybody is focused,” said Allen. “We are focused on the details, game plan and that will help us going into Sunday’s game.
“It’s going to be a hard fought game. They are a fiery, young team.”
When players talk about bringing their “A” game, there is no time like the present to do that. It’s going to take mistake free football and stopping the Bengals from making big plays, to get the job done.
“We are giving up the big plays. That is number one,” said Woodley. “Plus we have to create more turnovers and try to put our offense in better field position to allow them to put points on the board.
“Our big play guys just have to step up. I have to step up. I haven’t been getting any sacks lately, no big plays, so I have to start doing something.”
Foote also agrees that it’s time for everyone to make a play, whether you are a Pro Bowler or a rookie, the time is now.
“This is one of those games that the big name guys, the guys who you see their jerseys throughout the stadium, they make big plays in these kind of games,” said Foote. “This also can be an open opportunity for guys who are not in that class to do the same.”