As the Steelers prepare for the Miami Dolphins, at least one player has begun the psychological warfare on other teams whose help the Steelers need on Sunday.
Linebacker LaMarr Woodley called out both the Cincinnati Bengals (at New York Jets) and New England Patriots (at Houston).
"Cincinnati is probably going to go into New York and lay down for the Jets and not play them hard just because they don't want to see Pittsburgh in there," Woodley said, "because they know if we get into the playoffs we're a dangerous team."
The Steelers may need both the Texans and Jets to lose in order to sneak into the playoffs at 9-7. They do need at least one of them to lose. Cincinnati and New England are vying only to determine the No. 3 and 4 seeds in the AFC playoffs. If New England beats Houston, it would render the primetime Sunday game meaningless for the Bengals.
"All of them will lay down," Woodley said. "No one wants to see Pittsburgh in there. That's just how it is. Everybody knows we're a dangers team once we get into the playoffs no matter how we played throughout the whole year."
The Steelers have three scenarios to make the playoffs if they beat Miami:
--Houston loses or ties and Jets lose or tie.
--Houston loses or ties and Baltimore (at Oakland) loses or ties.
--Jets lose or tie and Baltimore loses or ties and Denver (home vs. Kansas City) loses or ties.
A few teammates disagreed with Woodley's assessment, particularly that the Bengals would lay down because they did not want to play the Steelers.
"Being that they beat us twice this year, I'm sure they have confidence if they do have to play us," safety Ryan Clark said.
"We can't worry about scenarios," tackle Willie Colon said. "You start worrying about that we kind of take the edge off ourselves."
Pittsburgh lost five straight in weeks 9-13, three to teams with some of the worst records in the league -- Kansas City, Oakland and Cleveland.
"This game is about playing, winning and losing, and at the end of the day you have to win," tackle Max Starks said.
Pro Bowl nose tackle Willie Colon said he does not blame a team such as the Bengals if they do not go all out and play everyone Sunday night in New York.
"I wouldn't. I'd keep my guys fresh and make sure my guys who have to play a game next week are ready to play. That's the main focus, the playoff game. If the game doesn't mean anything it doesn't mean anything, I'm a firm believer in that.
"Coaches got to do what's best for their team and be healthy going into the playoffs. I think that's their main focus. And if the game doesn't mean anything, why risk getting somebody hurt?"
20th regular-season meeting. Steelers lead series 10-9. Pittsburgh is 4-7 in Miami. The teams also met three times in the postseason with the Dolphins holding a 2-1 lead. They last met in the muck at Heinz Field in 2007 in what was dubbed the Four Rivers game, won by the Steelers 3-0 on a field goal by Jeff Reed with 17 seconds left. The Steelers also won in their most recent game in Miami, 13-3, on Sept. 26, 2004. That game, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's first start, was pushed to a night start by a hurricane.
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