Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NFL ; Steelers Focused on Ravens, Not Playoff Scenarios

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NFL ; Steelers Focused on Ravens, Not Playoff Scenarios

Article excerpt

PITTSBURGH - Mike Tomlin is well aware of the math.

And he's pretty sure his players are too.

Just don't expect the Pittsburgh Steelers coach to start talking about what needs to happen for his team to clinch a playoff spot this weekend. Last Tomlin checked, that wasn't part of his job description. "By all means have it, discuss (the scenarios), Tomlin said Tuesday. "But nothing changes our mentality in terms of where we are and what we need to be focused on.

A win in Baltimore against the Ravens and a loss by the New York Jets to New England would assure Pittsburgh (9-5) a spot in the postseason for the second straight year and the sixth time in Tomlin's nine seasons on the sideline.

Tomlin's success tends to follow a familiar pattern: the Steelers have issues coming out of the gate only to get it together when the temperatures dip and the pressure mounts.

Pittsburgh is 28-12 in regular-season games played Dec. 1 or later under Tomlin. The Steelers have won 10 straight games in December, tied with Carolina for the league's longest active streak.

The arrow, as Tomlin likes to say, is pointing up. Even if he doesn't want to get into details. Pressed on how his team has improved since a 23-20 overtime home loss to Baltimore on Oct. 1 and he gives the equivalent of a verbal shoulder shrug.

"It's just the natural maturation process of a group, individually and collectively over the course of the season, Tomlin said. "That was Week 4. We're now in the thick of this thing.

And appear to be a very real threat in a muddled AFC. Denver, Cincinnati, Houston and Indianapolis have quarterback issues. Kansas City is the hottest team in the league not named Carolina, though its current eight-game run includes a victory over the Roethlisberger-less Steelers on Oct. 25.

The Patriots are the Patriots, but have taken to signing 32-year- old running backs to have someone to line up next to Tom Brady. …

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