2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Steelers look for motivation as playoffs slip away

By WILL GRAVES - AP Sports Writer
    2013-12-09 15:24

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Troy Polamalu didn't want to talk about it.

His vintage, not to mention gravity-testing somersault into the end zone on a 19-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter turned momentum swiftly in Pittsburgh's favor at snowy Heinz Field on Sunday afternoon. Then it was relegated to a mere footnote in a 34-28 defeat that all but sank whatever postseason hopes the Steelers were clinging to.

''What does it matter?'' Polamalu said. ''We lost.''

The game. The season. And maybe just the latest golden era of one of the NFL's most successful franchises.

The Steelers (5-8) are all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs with three weeks remaining, the earliest they've been out of it since finishing 6-10 a decade ago. Three mostly meaningless games remain starting next weekend against Cincinnati, a stretch that could serve as a long goodbye for familiar faces who have a Super Bowl ring or two tucked away somewhere.

Though Polamalu remains under contract in 2014, fellow safety and close friend Ryan Clark is not. And the 34-year-old certainly sounded like he is eyeing the exit door after the Steelers allowed the Dolphins to go 80 yards in four plays late in the fourth quarter to take the lead for good.

''Everybody's time comes,'' Clark said. ''For me, I just want to enjoy it, keep playing.''

It's a sentiment echoed throughout the locker room, one the Steelers have found themselves repeating far too often this fall. They did it during an 0-4 start. They did it after getting pounded in a record-setting loss to New England in late October. They did it again while quietly dressing after a defeat that had all the hallmarks of a season that never seemed to get off the ground.

The defense allowed a trio of big plays, including a 55-yard run by Daniel Thomas that set up Charles Clay's winning 12-yard touchdown with 2:53 to go. The offense committed penalties on consecutive snaps in the fourth quarter with the Steelers at midfield hoping to close it out. The special teams allowed a punt to be partially blocked and did little in the return game.

''We understood what was at stake in terms of us and this football game, specifically,'' coach Mike Tomlin said. ''We'll take responsibility for whatever transpires. We understand the gravity of these moments.''

And now Tomlin finds himself with one of the more pressing tasks of his still young coaching career: finding a way to keep focused a room full of guys used to playing for something this time of year.

Cornerback Ike Taylor insists it won't be a problem even while allowing he is ''frustrated'' and ''hurt'' that the Steelers are assured of consecutive non-winning seasons for just the second time since 1986.

''When you've consistently been inconsistent? .500 record,'' Taylor said.

Actually, that's being generous. Pittsburgh needs to win its final three games to get back to break even, a daunting task considering the way the AFC North leading Bengals (9-4) are playing at the moment.

Cincinnati won the first meeting 20-10 back in Week 2. Not much has changed over the last three months. The Bengals remain young and hungry. The Steelers still look like they're trying to figure it out.

Pittsburgh appeared on its way early against the Dolphins. Rookie running back Le'Veon Bell spearheaded a long touchdown drive that gave the Steelers an early lead. Yet Bell was largely invisible in the second half, carrying the ball just five times.

When pressed on why Bell wasn't more involved, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suggested talking to offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

Roethlisberger has never been through a losing season in his life. Not in high school, not in college at Miami (Ohio) and not in 10 seasons with the Steelers. It's a personal point of pride for the two-time Super Bowl winner, one he expects his teammates to hold close to their hearts too.

''We are just going to give it everything we have every day,'' Roethlisberger said. ''There isn't going to be any quit from anybody.''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org .

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

DeAngelo WilliamsSep 21 07:42p

The Carolina Panthers have declared OG Andrew Norwell, RB DeAngelo Williams, OT Garry Williams, DL Greg Hardy, LB Jason Williams, QB Joe Webb, SS Tre Boston inactive for Week 3.

DeAngelo WilliamsSep 21 07:42p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (thigh) is inactive for the Week 3 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

B.W. WebbSep 21 07:42p

The Pittsburgh Steelers have declared CB B.W. Webb, DT Daniel McCullers, RB Dri Archer, QB Landry Jones, WR Martavis Bryant, OG Ramon Foster, OG Wesley Johnson inactive for Week 3.

Marcus EasleySep 21 03:32p

Buffalo Bills WR Marcus Easley (knee) and SS Da'Norris Searcy (ankle) suffered injuries during the team's Week 3 game and are considered questionable to return.

Greg ScruggsSep 21 03:22p

The Seattle Seahawks have declared OT Garry Gilliam, LB Bruce Irvin, OT Andrew McDonald, RB Christine Michael, WR Kevin Norwood, DE Greg Scruggs, CB Tharold Simon inactive for Week 3.

Jamaal CharlesSep 21 03:12p

The Kansas City Chiefs have declared SS Eric Berry, RB Jamaal Charles, OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, QB Aaron Murray, DE Damion Square, RB De'Anthony Thomas, WR Albert Wilson inactive for Week 3.

Carson PalmerSep 21 03:12p

Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer (shoulder) has been declared inactive for the team's Week 3 game.

Tony CarterSep 21 03:12p

The Denver Broncos have declared CB Tony Carter, OG Ben Garland, WR Cody Latimer, LB Lerentee McCray, OT Michael Schofield, LB Danny Trevathan, DT Mitch Unrein inactive for Week 3.

Jamaal CharlesSep 21 03:11p

Charles is out for the Week 3 game.

Mike PounceySep 21 03:02p

The Miami Dolphins have declared DE Terrence Fede, LB Koa Misi, RB Knowshon Moreno, C Mike Pouncey, OG Shelley Smith, LB Jordan Tripp and OT Billy Turner inactive for Week 3.

Vernon DavisSep 21 02:52p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis (ankle, knee) has been declared inactive for Week 3.

Vernon DavisSep 21 02:52p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared CB Tramaine Brock, DE Cornellius Carradine, OT Anthony Davis, TE Vernon Davis, C Marcus Martin, TE Vance McDonald, WR Quinton Patton inactive for Week 3.

Chad HenneSep 21 02:52p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles entered the team's Week 3 game in the second half after QB Chad Henne was benched.

Dave ZastudilSep 21 02:52p

The Arizona Cardinals have declared LB Victor Butler, LB Glenn Carson, TE Rob Housler, LB Alex Okafor, QB Carson Palmer, NT Alameda Ta'amu, P Dave Zastudil inactive for Week 3.

Stephen TullochSep 21 02:42p

Detroit Lions LB Stephen Tulloch (knee) and FS Don Carey (hamstring) suffered injuries during the team's Week 3 game and are considered questionable to return.

Dennis PittaSep 21 02:22p

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) was carted off after suffering a right hip injury during the team's Week 3 game.

Matt CasselSep 21 02:02p

Minnesota Vikings QB Matt Cassel (toe) was carted off the field in Week 3 after suffering a toe injury. He is considered questionable to return.

Danny WoodheadSep 21 01:22p

San Diego Chargers RB Danny Woodhead (undisclosed) was carted off the field after suffering an undisclosed injury in Week 3.

Adrian PetersonSep 21 12:42p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's lawyers are looking for an expedited trial for Peterson and do not want the trial to begin next year.

Ray RiceSep 21 12:22p

Free-agent RB Ray Rice (Ravens) will argue during his appeal hearing that the tape that was released of his domestic violence incident was edited, according to a source. Rice [ More ]

Keenan AllenSep 21 12:04p

Allen is active for the Week 3 game.

Shane VereenSep 21 12:02p

New England Patriots RB Shane Vereen (shoulder) is active against the Oakland Raiders Sunday, Sept. 21.

A.J. GreenSep 21 11:52a

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe) is active against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Sept. 21.

Anthony SpencerSep 21 11:52a

The Dallas Cowboys have declared DL Anthony Spencer, DL Davon Coleman, OG Donald Hawkins, QB Dustin Vaughan, LB Justin Durant, LB Rolando McClain, CB Tyler Patmon inactive for Week 3.

Bryce BrownSep 21 11:52a

The Buffalo Bills have declared RB Bryce Brown, TE Chris Gragg, OG Cyril Richardson, OT Cyrus Kouandjio, LB Keith Rivers, LB Randell Johnson, CB Ross Cockrell inactive for Week 3.

Aaron DobsonSep 21 11:52a

New England Patriots WR Kenbrell Thompkins is active for the Week 3 game Sunday, Sept. 21. WR Aaron Dobson is a healthy scratch for the game.

Aaron DobsonSep 21 11:52a

The New England Patriots have declared WR Aaron Dobson, CB Don Jones, RB James White, OL Josh Kline, DL Michael Buchanan, C Ryan Wendell, DE Zach Moore inactive for Week 3.

Akeem JordanSep 21 11:42a

The Washington Redskins have declared LB Akeem Jordan, TE Jordan Reed, DL Kedric Golston, OT Morgan Moses, QB Robert Griffin III, WR Santana Moss, CB Tracy Porter inactive for Week 3.

Brandon WattsSep 21 11:42a

The Minnesota Vikings have declared LB Brandon Watts, WR Charles X. Johnson, QB Christian Ponder, OG David Yankey, WR Rodney Smith, DL Scott Crichton, CB Shaun Prater inactive for Week 3.

Arthur JonesSep 21 11:42a

The Indianapolis Colts have declared DL Arthur Jones, LB Chris Carter, WR Da'Rick Rogers, LB Jerrell Freeman, OL Joe Reitz, C Khaled Holmes, OG Lance Louis inactive for Week 3.

Brandon ThompsonSep 21 11:42a

The Cincinnati Bengals have declared DL Brandon Thompson, CB Chris Lewis-Harris, OG Kevin Zeitler, WR Marvin Jones, RB Rex Burkhead, LB Sean Porter, LB Vontaze Burfict inactive for Week 3.

Ben TateSep 21 11:42a

The Cleveland Browns have declared RB Ben Tate, DL Eric Martin, TE Gerell Robinson, DL Ish Kitchen, WR LaRon Byrd, CB Pierre Desir, DB Robert Nelson inactive for Week 3.

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