Pittsburgh clings to faint playoff hopes after its entertaining 37-36 victory against Green Bay on Sunday, but the Steelers need a lot of help.
They must win their final two games -- against Baltimore this Sunday at Heinz Field and then at Miami on Jan. 3 -- to finish 9-7. A loss in either game and they are done.
"For us, our focus is just next game, next opponent, and making sure you win," tackle Max Starks said. "Winning usually takes care of everything."
It may not be enough in this instance, however. Other teams have the tiebreaker edge over them when it comes to conference record: The Jaguars (6-4) and Jets (5-5) each trump the Steelers (4-6) there. But if those two teams falter one time each, a likely scenario, a tiebreaker would not matter if the Steelers win both.
"Opportunity is still there to get in the playoffs," linebacker LaMarr Woodley said.
Baltimore also would beat Pittsburgh at 9-7 based on division record, so even if the Steelers beat the Ravens on Sunday, they could fall short. But the Steelers have more favorable tiebreakers against Tennessee and Houston, two other 7-7 teams.
What the Steelers need is a three-way tie with Baltimore and Denver at 9-7, a more likely scenario as well. In that case, the Steelers and Ravens would advance to the playoffs, and the Broncos would stay home.
The Steelers were both relieved to end their five-game losing streak Sunday and delighted to remain alive for a playoff spot, even if their hopes are slim. They had no time to look behind at their atrocious losses to the likes of Cleveland and Kansas City.
"All you can do is thank the Lord, bury the dead and keep moving," tackle Willie Colon said.
Copyright (C) 2009 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.