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The significance of finishing strong

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Troy Polamalu gave some insight today into why Steelers coach Mike Tomlin hasn’t ruled out playing Ben Roethlisberger Saturday against the St. Louis Rams.
“The team that may win the Super Bowl has probably lost their last game,” Polamalu said.
The implication there is that the Steelers need to finish strong — even though they could win their final two games and still have to take the wild-card route to the Super Bowl.
The Steelers should be able to beat the hapless Rams with Ben Stein playing quarterback. Hence an argument can be made that the Steelers can win their final two games handily —- and take momentum into the postseason — and still allow Roethlisberger to rest his ailing ankle.
Roethlisberger is pushing to play against the Rams, and Polamalu said that desire stems from the way NFL players are wired.
“As an athlete you’re geared to always be on the goal and always play,” Polamalu said. “Obviously there’s a point where, ‘Oh, I just can’t go.’ If your hamstring’s injured you just can’t burst. But mentally you’re always preparing yourself like ‘I can play this game, I can play this game.’ ”
***
The elephant in the Steelers’ locker room this week is the reality that wide receiver Hines Ward may play his final game at Heinz Field Saturday.
“He’s been a great teammate, one of the best I’ve ever had,” Polamalu said. “He’s been our team leader on offense since I’ve been here. He’s had a lot of success as a receiver, especially for being on run-first team for such a long time.”
Emmanuel Sanders said Ward has been a ”great mentor” to him, Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace and that “I look up to the guy.”
“If Hines does decide to retire, I’m happy for him,” Sanders said. “I hope that he gets the 1,000-catch mark and I hope that we can send him out of here Super Bowl champs. That would be beautiful if he decides to retire.”
***
Sanders said he will likely be a game-time decision Saturday, but I think the Steelers will hold him out another week as a precaution.
Sanders hasn’t played the last two games because of a foot injury he sustained while making a cut in practice. He was probably putting too much stress on the foot as a result of favoring his left knee, on which he had arthroscopic surgery in early November.
“The most important thing is that I’m there for the playoffs and 100 percent,” Sanders said. “Don’t want this injury to be lingering.”

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Comments

  1. Chuck H. says:

    About Harrisons fine and Suspension/ Why would he need to apologize for a completely legal hit on a Qback turned Running back for the play. McCoy was just as much at
    fault for this as was Harrison, who received all of the blame. I am convinced that the league is gunning for the Steelers. Why is anyone’s question, but anytime there is an infraction in a game, it seems the Steelers get the sh—y end of the stick. Keep playing the same way, James and maybe justice will prevail. GO STILLERS, all the way to
    Super Bowl.

  2. olddog says:

    Keeping a “rythem” is very important to team success. As long as players can play, let them go. I still believe we will take the AFC north away from Baltimore. The Bengals can and will probably beat them in week 17 so we need to stay the course and win out. I just hope Hines gets a chance to get his 1000th catch !!!! Merry Christmas to all

  3. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    This has nothing to do with the legality or not of Harrison’s hit, which I thought was awesome, it’s just very weird:

    If you watch the camera shot from behind James Harrison, McCoy never looks at him. It’s like he didn’t even see him. I know the QB should keep his eyes on the receiver, but you would expect at least a last, split-second look at Harrison and an “Oh sh-t!” reaction. Nothing. It’s hinkie. Very hinkie.

    Also, last year, there were weekly videos of great Steelers hits on youtube, and what have you. Nothing this year, save for Harrison’s “illegal” conk. Have the Steelers been affected by the threat of fines?

  4. Scott P says:

    Chuck H.,
    I agree with you 100%. It is legal to hit a running back helmet to helmet. McCoy established himself as a running back.

    The other thing that bothers me is that the league used his past transgressions as a justification for the suspension. In reality, several of last years incidents were highly questionable themselves. The one against Ryan Fitzpatrick immediately jumps to mind. That should not have even drawn a flag let alone a fine.

    If it becomes apparent that the Steelers can not improve their playoff seed by winning the season finale in Cleveland, I would love to see them forfiet the game as a protest to Roger Goodell and his evil Monarchy.

  5. Doug Halfen says:

    Everyone needs to be at or close to 100% for the playoffs. We stand a much better chance of beating ANYBODY, ANYWHERE with a fully-mobile Ben.

    You never want to lose games, period — so let some of our second-stringers earn their paychecks and drub 2 of the NFL’s most underachieving squads. The starters can get some much-needed rest, and the backups can get some time in the spotlight.

    Anyone who thinks players like Ben or Troy would get rusty by missing real-game action doesn’t know these guys: they’ll be chomping at the bit, and when loosed, they’ll play like rabid, starving guard-dogs.

    (Mind you, they _do_ need to practice — while healthy.)

  6. Tom says:

    Ok Steelers fan, please let the Harrison hit go. The more you talk, the dumber you make Pittsburgh fans sound. The QB, no matter what, isn’t a runner until he crosses the line of scrimmage. He always has the option to pass, even if he tucks the ball for a short time. Harrison hit the qb in the head when he didn’t have the ball…bottom line. I’m as big a a Steelers fan as anyone, but the dude broke the rule again. Oh and please don’t say they are making the game like flag football. Harrison could have treated him like a tackle dummy on that play, by crushing him in the chest and driving him in the ground. It wouldn’t have been a late hit, he just got busted for hitting him in the head, not late or defenseless. I’d like to be a Pitt homer too, but how can a guy be a runner when he doesn’t have the ball.

  7. john punola says:

    If I were Steeler coach, I would play Batch both final games and let a lot of the backups play as well Despite the losing records of both final opponents, they are tough players earning a paycheck who would delight in derailing the Steeler express and knocking Ben out of the game, especially the Browns I think Batch and Dixon should get some playing time I think Bens inability to move around and run in the 49ers game was evident if Steelers meet them again in Superbowl and are healthy, I feel they will easily beat the 49eres I also would quit using Mendenhall inside the five yard line, he does not have the brute power of Redman, who always picks up the tough yards

  8. Doug Halfen says:

    ^^^ Redman has amazing “stay-on-his-feet”ness. He’s the closest thing we have to The Bus at present. (Note: No one in the NFL has yet so far been able to walk in Jerome’s shadow. ;^)

    Rashard has definitely lost some of his magic, and he’s ALWAYS running into people (IOW, can’t seem to improvise to save his life, and has shelved that wicked spin move completely). He had a few sparks against the Niners, and BA got away from him waaaaaaaay too easily. A few less empty backfields and much more Power I does a Steelers’ fan’s heart good!

  9. mitchell greene says:

    I think this start of Batch by Tomlin makes him look crazy why not dress Ben last week versus the niners and start with Batch and then if you needed Big Ben put him in but thats why I’m a spectator.

  10. Dick says:

    Good catch by Wallace on that 48 yard pass from Batch. Think he was robbed of a TD as he was still bobbling the ball at the one, where they placed it, and didn’t control it until he was in the endzone. This was clear when looking at the replay but it was over-ruled on review. Not sure how to interpret this ruling. If the same play came on the sideline it would have been ruled incomplete even though receiver gained control as he landed out of bounds. Any comments from my Steeler friends out there? All in all a great team effort though. Think this team can make a good playoff run if they can get healthy. Antonio Brown is fast becoming my favorite player. Really like the way he plays. His attitude, determination, and will to win is second to none. How fortunate we are to have him. Our other wideouts are a cut above too. They are really a strong point of this team and in MHO the best since the Stallworth and Swann era.

  11. Dick says:

    For Tom:
    Thanks for the clear explanation of the Harrison hit, Tom. It helped clear my fuzzy mind. Your info was really informative and clearly explained.

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