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

DeMarco MurrayOct 25 08:28p

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray worked out with TE Jason Witten before the team's official offseason program, and he credits the veteran tight end with his increased stamina and [ More ]

Ryan ClarkOct 25 06:42p

Washington Redskins DE Chris Baker (thigh), OT Tyler Polumbus (knee), LB Perry Riley (knee) and OT Trent Williams (knee) practiced Saturday, Oct. 25, and are probable for Week 8. [ More ]

Edwin BakerOct 25 06:22p

The New Orleans Saints released TE Tom Crabtree Saturday, Oct. 25. RB Edwin Baker was promoted to the 53-man roster in his place.

Tom CrabtreeOct 25 06:12p

The New Orleans Saints released TE Tom Crabtree Saturday, Oct. 25.

Jerel WorthyOct 25 06:12p

The Kansas City Chiefs re-signed DE Jerel Worthy to the practice squad Saturday, Oct. 25.

LaMarr WoodleyOct 25 05:02p

Oakland Raiders LB LaMarr Woodley (biceps) and FS Usama Young (knee) were placed on Reserve/Injured Saturday, Oct. 25. CB D.J. Hayden (foot) was activated from the Physically Unable to [ More ]

Derrick ColemanOct 25 04:32p

Seattle Seahawks FS Derrick Coleman (foot) was placed on Reserve/Injured Saturday, Oct. 25. The team signed WR Phil Bates to the 53-man roster.

Damian WilliamsOct 25 04:32p

Miami Dolphins DE Dion Jordan was activated to the 53-man roster Saturday, Oct. 25, after serving his suspension. WR Damian Williams was waived to make room for him.

Jack CrawfordOct 25 04:32p

Dallas Cowboys LB Bruce Carter (thigh), FS Jakar Hamilton (personal), OT Jermey Parnell (chest) and DE Anthony Spencer (knee, foot) practiced Saturday, Oct. 25, and are probable for Week [ More ]

Doug FreeOct 25 03:52p

Dallas Cowboys OG Doug Free (foot) could return next week against the Arizona Cardinals. Head coach Jason Garrett said he hopes Free will be able to practice net week.

Ryan TaylorOct 25 03:02p

The Baltimore Ravens waived TE Ryan Taylor and promoted TE Phillip Supernaw from their practice squad to the active roster Saturday, Oct. 25.

Chandler JonesOct 25 02:12p

New England Patriots DE Chandler Jones (hip) could be done for the season with a hip injury he suffered in Week 7. Jones will reportedly miss at least six weeks.

Chris CookOct 25 01:22p

The San Francisco 49ers placed CB Chris Cook (hamstring) and C Daniel Kilgore (leg) on Reserve/Injured and signed S Ray Ventrone to a one-year deal Saturday, Oct. 25.

Gerell RobinsonOct 25 01:12p

The Cleveland Browns activated OL Nick McDonald and waived TE Gerell Robinson Saturday, Oct. 25.

Gerald McCoyOct 25 01:02p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy has agreed to terms with the team on a seven-year contract extension worth close to $100 million.

Marcus EasleyOct 25 12:42p

Buffalo Bills WR Marcus Easley (knee) will work out before the team's Week 8 game to see if he will be able to play, according to head coach Doug [ More ]

Jason TrusnikOct 25 12:42p

Miami Dolphins LB Jason Trusnik could start at middle linebacker in Week 8 if LB Koa Misi (ankle) is not able to play.

Tavarres KingOct 25 12:22p

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed practice squad CB Peyton Thompson to their active roster Saturday, Oct. 25. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The team also waived WR Tavarres King.

Calais CampbellOct 25 12:22p

Arizona Cardinals DE Calais Campbell (knee) likely will be a game-time decision for Week 8, according to head coach Bruce Arians. Campbell said his knee felt good during practice and hopes to play.

A.J. GreenOct 25 12:12p

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe) is not expected to play in Week 8, because he has ligament damage under his toe. The team wants to be careful with [ More ]

Shonn GreeneOct 25 12:02p

Tennessee Titans RB Shonn Greene was arrested Friday, Oct. 24, and charged with a handicap parking violation, driving on a revoked/suspended license, reckless driving and resisting stop/halt/frisk.

Sean SpenceOct 25 11:32a

Pittsburgh Steelers LB Ryan Shazier (knee) should be able to play in Week 8, but it is not known if he will start at inside linebacker. Shazier and LB [ More ]

Aqib TalibOct 25 05:22a

Denver Broncos CB Tony Carter has drawn interest on the trade market prior to the Oct. 28 deadline. CBs Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby have taken away some playing [ More ]

Alan BranchOct 25 05:12a

Free-agent DL Alan Branch (Bills) was spotted in the New England Patriots' locker room but still has not signed his contract with the team. An additional report by Mike [ More ]

Jason KelceOct 25 12:42a

Philadelphia Eagles C Jason Kelce (hernia) is listed as questionable for the Week 8 game against the Arizona Cardinals, but he is unlikely to play. He had sports hernia [ More ]

Cullen JenkinsOct 25 12:42a

New York Giants DT Cullen Jenkins (calf) is expected to miss at least a few weeks, so DEs Robert Ayers and Mathias Kiwanuka could be asked to play interior [ More ]

Jon BeasonOct 25 12:42a

New York Giants LB Devon Kennard might see more playing time with LB Jon Beason (toe) injured and possibly sidelined a while.

Emmanuel AchoOct 25 12:32a

Philadelphia Eagles LB Mychal Kendricks (calf) might be able to return for the Week 8 game against the Arizona Cardinals. If not, LBs Emmanuel Acho and Casey Matthews would [ More ]

Luke WillsonOct 24 10:44p

Seattle Seahawks TE Luke Willson (groin) will play in the team's Week 8 game, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

Crockett GillmoreOct 24 10:32p

Baltimore Ravens rookie TE Crockett Gillmore will receive the start at tight end in Week 8 against the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Ravens appear to have plenty of confidence [ More ]

Golden TateOct 24 10:12p

Detroit Lions WR Golden Tate will be facing the league's 29th ranked pass defense in Week 8 against the Atlanta Falcons.

Steve JohnsonOct 24 10:08p

San Francisco 49ers WR Stevie Johnson has played only 20 percent of the snaps in the last month, but he's been the team's most effective receiver in that time. [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group