View Full Version : 2010 AFC North Champions!!! 2nd seed and bye secured!

01-02-2011, 04:59 PM
Ladies and gentlemen of the Steeler Nation, I am pleased to announce that the epic domination of the failtastic Browns results in the #2 seed for the post season and the divisional crown being brought back to where it belongs!

It's clear that the 10 day rest came at the perfect time for our Steelers. They were on fire right from the opening kickoff and never looked back. Now we get another weeks rest to make sure Troy is fully ready for the post season and with any luck we'll get Smith back too.

The entire team is looking sharp, playing with confidence, and appears to be in playoff form after that performance today.


01-02-2011, 05:00 PM
Hell ya.... Road to the 7th championship starts now.. Lets do this

*Sent from my HTC EVO using Tapatalk Pro.

Steel Trap86
01-02-2011, 05:10 PM
No Ben for the first quarter of the season and still got it done. This is huge because it gives us the much needed extra week off to get healthy and Smith should definitely be back for the first game now. Big step in the right direction today

01-02-2011, 05:15 PM
No doubt man, anybody who'd have thought that after not having Ben for the first 4 games of the season and now we're the 2nd seed..how awesome is that!

man that was a fun game to watch but the 4th quarter just drug on and on and on. LOL

01-02-2011, 05:19 PM
Good tune up game for our run!!

airbrake 1
01-02-2011, 05:21 PM
This was a fantastic performance today...all phases were clicking, nice to see they cleaned up some of the sloppy penalties we were getting earlier in the year, but we have to remember this was the clowns we were playing today not exactly a juggernaut...we will need a performance like this if we have to play the cheatriots...I thought the o-line was great today..i even liked what i saw from ziggy hood today,but i will be happy if smith returns for the playoffs,but i think hood is starting to come along (keep your fingers crossed)...hopefully the injury to pouncey isn't very serious,it looked like he was OK on the sideline when they showed him later....bring on the playoffs:tt02:

01-02-2011, 05:27 PM
Stairway 2 Seven is in full effect...GO Steelers:tt02:

North Steel
01-02-2011, 06:26 PM
YEAH BABY!:tt02::cope::banana::greenbounce2::clap:

01-02-2011, 06:31 PM
DIDN'T THOSE SLANTS LOOK GOOD TODAY? I could get used to those types of passes.

01-02-2011, 06:32 PM
Congrats to all the boys and coaches. It will make for a nice bus ride home from Cleveland.

Long Island Steel
01-02-2011, 07:35 PM
I feel like the last time the Steelers got so much mileage out of the quick slant, it was O'Donnell to Thigpen!

01-02-2011, 07:44 PM
DIDN'T THOSE SLANTS LOOK GOOD TODAY? I could get used to those types of passes.

I thought the same thing! It is about time. Hopefully this is what BA has been saving up his sleeve, but let's not get too excited. Too much more football to play! Also, I was very happy to see that the kick off team squib kicked each time to keep it out of Cribbs' hands. Seems like for once that the game was well coached...even if it was the lowly Browns. Go Steelers, kick *** in the playoffs! :yellowthumb:

01-02-2011, 08:08 PM

Hey, I don't know about you, but for me that was the fastest season I ever seen. Who would of thought the results would be like this. It was done on a wing and a prayer but, done nonetheless. Way too go team. You have done us proud.

01-02-2011, 08:49 PM
I had us at 11-5 going into the season so I'll certainly take this with all things considered. Tomlin should be a coach of the year candidate for dealing with Ben, the injuries, and the kicking situation, but he'll take a back seat to all those worshiping Belichik.

Ever since we lost that game to the Pats, I have felt like we are on a collision course with them in the AFCC. I'm not overlooking anyone, but just a feeling....

01-02-2011, 08:55 PM
Yeahh I'm pumped. A dominant game like this one is a good way to enter the postseason. Hope we can deliver the same type of *** kicking to whoever we play in the second round.

01-02-2011, 10:11 PM
I had us at 11-5 going into the season so I'll certainly take this with all things considered. Tomlin should be a coach of the year candidate for dealing with Ben, the injuries, and the kicking situation, but he'll take a back seat to all those worshiping Belichik.

Ever since we lost that game to the Pats, I have felt like we are on a collision course with them in the AFCC. I'm not overlooking anyone, but just a feeling....

Well we got one more game to win to get that possible rematch up in Foxborough 3 weeks from tonight so gotta take care of business at home first against either Indy,KC,or the Shitbirds...Great win today as well the Steelers did exactly what they needed to do and that's come out early and often and just pound the living **** out of the Browns and never let them up off the mat...It was an awesome way to close out this season and a great way to go into the playoffs...This team will not get to only play 1 game in a span of 23 days and will be very fresh and have a ton of rest for their first divisional game here in 13 days...

01-02-2011, 10:32 PM
If anyone would have known that a win in the final week in Cleveland would have given us the 2nd seed, we'd have been excited as all get out. Most of us figured we'd be about 11-5, maybe 10-6 this year. The defense was coming off a down year, guys seemed to be losing a step, Ben was gone for the first 4 weeks, things were not looking good. The team rallied around each other, pulled together, stayed focused and here we are the divisional champs!

01-02-2011, 10:34 PM
CLEVELAND -- There are steps, some big, some small, teams must take before they can be Super Bowl champions.

The Pittsburgh Steelers know the uphill path well.

On Sunday, they quickened their pace.

Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes as the Steelers geared up for another possible title run by winning the AFC North and securing a first-round playoff bye with a 41-9 rout of Cleveland, in what may have been Eric Mangini's last game as Browns coach.

"We love to win the division," Roethlisberger said. "This is a hard division. We hope this is just the beginning."

Roethlisberger, who rested most of the second half, threw a 56-yard TD to Mike Wallace on his first pass as the Steelers (11-5) built a 31-3 halftime lead and rocked the Browns (5-11), who didn't put up much of a fight in their finale -- and maybe Mangini's.

The Steelers clinched the No. 2 seed in the AFC and guaranteed themselves at least one more game at Heinz Field.

"Mission accomplished," said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, sporting a black-and-white championship cap. "We're excited to win the division and proud of doing it, but it's only hardware you pick up along the way. Today was the first game where we felt like we played close to what we're capable of."

The Steelers look ready for a lengthy playoff run.

The Browns, on the other hand, are ready for more change.

Mangini fell to 10-22 in two seasons with Cleveland. On Monday, he's scheduled to meet with team president Mike Holmgren, who may fire him and appoint himself coach. When the game ended, a downcast Mangini was consoled by defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who will reportedly interview for Carolina's head coaching vacancy.

Mangini doesn't know what's ahead, but his demeanor was that of a beaten man.

"I thought we got beat in all three phases," Mangini said. "They had a better plan than we did and when that happens against a team like this, you have a day like today. It's difficult to feel any positives in the wake of what happened."

For Roethlisberger, this was more redemption.

He began the season serving a four-game suspension -- cut from six by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell -- for violating the league's personal conduct policy. There was no telling how the Steelers would do without him. But they went 3-1 without their leader, and in his first game, he threw three TD passes in a 28-10 win over Cleveland on Oct. 17.

Not only did Roethlisberger return as the same physical talent, he came back a more mature person.

Big Ben, now more at peace with himself, has hardly been better.

"We have been through a lot," he said. "Now, it's playoff time."

Roethlisberger went 15 of 22 for 280 yards. He has thrown 158 passes without an interception, the longest streak of his career and further evidence of improved judgment and composure not always present.

"Ben came through adversity," wide receiver Hines Ward said. "He stepped up, not that he hasn't in the past. But this season didn't start like other seasons."

With the Steelers leading 38-3, Tomlin sat Roethlisberger with 5:34 left in the third.

It was time to start planning for the playoffs. But before Tomlin could get all his starters out, rookie center Maurkice Pouncey suffered a neck stinger. Earlier, starting left cornerback Bryant McFadden injured his groin and did not return.

Otherwise, these Steelers appeared fit and focused.

They finished tied with Baltimore, but won their fifth division crown in nine years because of a tiebreaker. It wasn't assured until they avoided a slip-up and avenged last season's 13-6 loss in Cleveland, when a 1-11 Browns team sacked Roethlisberger eight times.

Mendenhall's two short TD bursts and Roethlisberger's scoring passes to Wallace -- following Troy Polamalu's interception -- and Heath Miller gave the Steelers a 28-3 lead. It swelled to 38-3 in the third on wide receiver Antwaan Randle El's 3-yard TD pass to Ward.

"We knew we had a lot riding on this game," Miller said. "Our whole season came down to this. All of our goals hinged on this. We knew we had to take care of business."

Cleveland's fourth straight loss was likely the final straw for Mangini, who kept his job last year when his team closed with a four-game winning streak. The Browns improved in several statistical areas, but went 2-6 following an upset of New England.

Holmgren will discuss the future with him early Monday. It doesn't look good for Mangini, who was fired by the New York Jets after 2008.

Mangini's fate seemed sealed before kickoff, but if Holmgren needed another reason, he's got it. The Browns were no competition for their next-door neighbors from Pennsylvania. Mangini dropped to 2-10 in division games, and after so many close losses, his Browns were blown out.

"Nobody feels good right now," Mangini said. "This is the first time this season when I didn't feel like we were in the game."

Under pressure on almost every pass, Browns rookie quarterback Colt McCoy was intercepted three times and sacked four more. He ended up 20 of 41 for 209 yards -- much of it in garbage time. He did throw a 20-yard TD pass to Brian Robiskie in the fourth.

McCoy wasn't expected to play this season, but was thrust into a starting role by injuries. He went just 2-6, but felt fortunate to gain experience.

"I don't know what the future holds for the coaching staff," McCoy said. "Guys in that locker room are committed to changing the way it's been around here, and I'm one of them."

Notes: It may have been K Phil Dawson's final game with Cleveland. The only player left from the 1999 expansion team is a free agent. "It was an emotional game," he said. "I'm just going home to Texas, do some fishing and we'll see what happens." ... Polamalu's seventh pick tied a career high for a season. ... Pittsburgh gave up only 62.8 yards rushing per game, shattering the team record set in 2001.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

01-02-2011, 10:40 PM
CLEVELAND -- Here are some early thoughts on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ blowout victory over the Cleveland Browns.

What it means: The Steelers (12-4) clinched the AFC North division title and a first-round bye for the second time in three years. Pittsburgh holds the No. 2 seed and would have to play on the road at New England only if both of those teams play in the AFC title game. For the Browns (5-11), this will likely be the final game for Browns head coach Eric Mangini. He entered the year on the hot seat and fell to 10-22 in two seasons in Cleveland, which includes a 2-10 mark against the AFC North.

What I liked: The playoffs started a week early for the Steelers. With so much on the line, they came out fast and didn't leave anything to chance. Pittsburgh activated Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu, who made a big interception on the opening drive that set up the opening touchdown for the Steelers. From there, Cleveland had no response. Pittsburgh led 31-3 at halftime and completely dismantled the Browns. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a good game in limited playing time with 280 yards and two touchdowns. Tailback Rashard Mendenhall also ran for a pair of touchdowns.

What I didn't like: The Browns didn't show up in a game against their biggest rival. Pittsburgh is better than Cleveland, but there's still no excuse for losing by 32 points at home. With another poor outing, questions also will linger into the offseason about rookie quarterback Colt McCoy. He threw three interceptions for the second straight week, and Pittsburgh and the Baltimore Ravens are the teams McCoy has to beat in the future for Cleveland to turn things around.

What's next: The Steelers return to the playoffs for the first time since winning the Super Bowl following the 2008 season. Pittsburgh will play the highest seed from the wild-card round. For the Browns, their season is over and the team has to decide the future of the coaching staff. Cleveland president Mike Holmgren has done a good job of staying out of the public eye during the season. But expect Holmgren to create a lot of headlines in the next couple of weeks with his offseason moves.


01-02-2011, 10:42 PM
By Mike Prisuta - WDVE-FM

Posted 1 hour ago

aaCLEVELAND – Brett Keisel already has two Super Bowl rings, but that didn’t stop the Steelers’ defensive end from modeling his just-earned “AFC North Division Champions” T-shirt and baseball cap late Sunday afternoon at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

“We want to get two more shirts and two more hats,” Keisel announced. “That would be the icing on the cake.”

How they get there from a regular season concluding, 41-9 victory over the Browns was a much-discussed subject in the Steelers’ locker room after they had put the finishing touches on the division championship and secured a much-sought-after bye in the opening round of the playoffs.

“Our confidence, our ‘swag,’” linebacker Larry Foote responded, when asked what he liked most about the Steelers heading into the postseason. “When we step into arenas, it’s just like we know we’re going to win. And whoever’s going to do it, we don’t care. We’re an unselfish bunch of guys in whatever area it is, offense, defense, whatever; as long as we get the ‘W.’”

Foote, unlike Keisel, wasn’t celebrating with any newly-acquired “AFC North Champions” attire.

“There are bigger fish to fry,” he said.

Keisel highlighted a different quality in these 12-4, division-champion Steelers, in addition to sporting a different look than Foote.

“We just gotta continue to stay humble,” Keisel said.

Humility and swagger; as different, perhaps, as offense and defense. And perhaps, just as integral in a championship equation.

These Steelers have demonstrated both characteristics in achieving that 12-4 record. And in the eyes of what Foote referred to as the Steelers’ contingent of “been-there, done-that guys,” they have the makings of a team that’s capable of adding to its championship legacy.

That’s been evident, wide receiver Hines Ward maintained, because of how the Steelers responded this season to what they had endured last season.

“I think so,” he said. “Our leaders on this team came together, put it on their shoulders, ‘let’s go out and take care of business,’ and we did that.

“We have a great team. And winning a Super Bowl and then to follow up with missing the playoffs is just disappointing. I think going through that five-game losing streak last season, a lot of guys learned from that. This year we came back and, at the beginning of the season, if anybody said we were going to finish 12-4 … only guys in this locker room, we didn’t know what record we’d have but we knew we were going to have a great opportunity to make the postseason.”

Now that they’ve made it they’ll have a chance to take advantage of the opportunity the Steelers’ return to the playoffs has created.

“We’ll find out if we’re ready,” strong safety Troy Polamalu said. “That’s the only way to answer that question.

“You can say that you have momentum, but it’s just a whole different ballgame once you get into the playoffs. Little things start to matter more. The intensity, obviously, is picked up. I guess we’ve been fortunate enough to play a lot of playoff games around here, and you come to understand those types of things.”

And with it comes the understanding that championship T-shirts and hats aren’t just given away.


01-02-2011, 11:02 PM
Let's go! Seventh heaven!

01-02-2011, 11:12 PM
We did it baby!!!!!! :cope: Stairway to 7 starts now and we are going to take down our opponents on swift wings and with a sick slash from the black and gold sickle. Steelers own AFC. Fu-k patriots.

01-03-2011, 12:33 AM
The week off will be particularly good for our banged up team. Let's hope we can take care of Jets/Baltimore/KC so we get a chance to take down the Pats at home.

01-03-2011, 01:11 AM
You don't know how bad I wanna destroy the Pats on their own field!

01-03-2011, 04:10 AM
Great way to take the AFC North championship!! Congrats to Tomlin, the organization & Steeler Nation. Good Luck to the players as they continue on their quest for their:tt02: 7th ring. Go Steelers!!:tt02::tt02::tt02:

01-03-2011, 11:15 AM
DIDN'T THOSE SLANTS LOOK GOOD TODAY? I could get used to those types of passes.


01-03-2011, 11:21 AM
You don't know how bad I wanna destroy the Pats on their own field!

Wait a second, didn't they already win the SB??? You'd sure think so the way everyone is stroking them!!

But it would be sweet! Maybe Tom has saved his INT's for the post season???

01-03-2011, 11:26 AM
Wait a second, didn't they already win the SB??? You'd sure think so the way everyone is stroking them!!

But it would be sweet! Maybe Tom has saved his INT's for the post season???

Jets at Steelers... AFCC... Could it be?

01-03-2011, 01:28 PM
By Bob Labriola - Steelers Digest

Posted 14 hours ago

aaCLEVELAND – It started with a bus ride. Not the one that brought them home from here as AFC North Division champions, but an important bus ride nevertheless.

Early August, the eighth day of their captivity on a college campus. After a dozen on-field practices and more than twice as many meetings, after going through two of those dozen practices in the previous 16 hours, they got on buses built for the normal-sized people they are not, and they rode for six hours, three hours each way for a trip that lasted almost until midnight.

“It was the right thing to do on so many fronts. It was an opportunity for us to support a man we all love and admire in Dick LeBeau, but it was also an opportunity to go to Canton, Ohio, to go to the Hall of Fame and to appreciate the game of football. To appreciate the history of the game of football, and the men who were being recognized that day for doing it at an extremely high level. I just thought it was an educational field trip for a football team that was worth the potential risk of adding another road trip to the group, because that’s essentially what we did.”

Mike Tomlin believes a coach is responsible for giving his team what it needs at any given moment in time, and his fingerprints are all over these 12-4 Steelers, who won a division title for the third time in his four-year tenure by virtue of their 41-9 decision over the Cleveland Browns last Sunday. So they now get to sit at home during the Wild Card Round of the playoffs and wait for the highest-seeded winner to come to Heinz Field for a Divisional Round game, already set for 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 15.

* * *

The Steelers are division champions, and when it comes time they’ll begin their playoff run with a lot of things in their favor. Their quarterback is playing his best football of the season, and their defense has all of its playmakers confident and doing what they do, and they are a unified bunch who play for each other.

That’s exactly what the Steelers need right now, which means their coach is on top of his game, too.

Read the rest of this column in its entirety in the current issue of Steelers Digest. To subscribe, call 1-800-334-4005, or visit: http://www.steelers.com/news/digest.html

01-03-2011, 01:31 PM
Monday, January 03, 2011
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Ben Roethlisberger started with a 56-yard TD pass on the first play and he didn't stop until he put up 38 points, the most he has engineered this season. He passed for 218 of his 280 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. His 4-yard run on third down led to the second TD. Roethlisberger was not intercepted for the fourth game in a row, extending his streak to 158 passes without a pick.


Rashard Mendenhall had two rushing touchdowns to finish with 13, one shy of the team single-season record. But he finished with only 36 yards on 14 carries and didn't have a run longer than 7 yards -- not the performance expected against a defense that allowed the past three opposing backs an average of 118 yards per game. Mendenhall also had a 24-yard catch to set up a TD.


Mike Wallace made the big strike early with a 56-yard TD and had a 41-yard catch-and-run in the second possession to set up the second score. He finished with his seventh 100-yard receiving game of the season and third in a row. TE Heath Miller has only two TD catches this season, both came against the Browns. He had four catches, including a 4-yard TD from Roethlisberger in the second quarter.


Roethlisberger was not sacked for only the second time this season (the other was in his first game back against the Browns). C Maurkice Pouncey did a good job recognizing the multiple defensive fronts used by the Browns and making the right calls. Power-blocking in goal-line situations allowed the Steelers to convert 4 of 5 red-zone chances for TDs against the league's No. 6 red-zone defense.


The Steelers finished the season with one of the best rushing defenses in NFL history, allowing only 62.8 yards per game. They finished it off by holding the Browns to 43 yards on 17 carries -- testament to a line that plays a two-gap style better than any unit in the league. DE Ziggy Hood had a sack for the third game in a row. DE Brett Keisel also had a sack, forced a fumble and deflected a pass.


Everybody got into the game in this one, including rookie OLB Stevenson Sylvester, who stood out with three solo tackles. Veteran Larry Foote had five tackles, a half-sack and a big pass breakup in the end zone. Nobody was more active than ILB Lawrence Timmons, who had nine solo tackles and forced a fumble. James Harrison hurried QB Colt McCoy into the last of his three interceptions.


Troy Polamalu's interception on the second play of the game -- his career-high seventh of the season -- set the tone. The Steelers had three interceptions for the third time this season to finish with 21. They held QB Colt McCoy to 209 yards passing -- 96 in the final quarter. Ryan Clark's diving pick and 23-yard return set up the fourth TD and Anthony Madison's interception led to a field goal.


Maybe the Steelers should take this approach more often? They squib kicked against Joshua Cribbs, who has three career scoring returns against them. The Browns never had a return longer than 17 yards and averaged a paltry 9.1 yards on eight returns -- including four fewer than 8 yards. Shaun Suisham added field goals of 41 and 24 yards, making him 14 of 15, including 8 of 9 from 40 to 49 yards.


It has been a Steelers staple all season to take care of business against teams they should beat, unlike last season. They put up 41 points against a team that was the only one in the NFL that hadn't allowed 30 or more points in a game this season. Mike Tomlin's decision to play Troy Polamalu sent a quick message to the players that he wasn't about to back down in this game, and they didn't.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11003/1115234-66.stm#ixzz19zixeq2N

01-03-2011, 01:32 PM
Good stuff!! Thanks dude...

01-03-2011, 02:13 PM
Good stuff!! Thanks dude...

I always do it for my SA Family. :yellowthumb:

01-03-2011, 09:43 PM
Here's a great interview with Mike Tomlin about celebrating the Division Championship


01-04-2011, 01:41 PM
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
With the bye week and a home playoff game Jan. 15, it looks like deja two for the Steelers. They have been here before with the No. 2 playoff seed in the AFC, and they did well with it.

They entered the 2008 playoffs as the No. 2 seed and won three in a row to claim their sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy.

They were the No. 2 seed in the 1995 playoffs and won two games to reach their fifth Super Bowl, where they lost to Dallas, 27-17.

On both occasions, they also caught a break by playing the AFC championship game at home when the top-seeded AFC team lost its first game -- Baltimore won at Tennessee in the playoffs after the 2008 season and Indianapolis won at top-seeded Kansas City in the 1995 playoffs.

They also were the No. 2 seed in 1997 and again caught some luck when top-seeded Kansas City lost its first playoff game but then the Steelers lost to Denver in the AFC championship game at Three Rivers Stadium.

This is the eighth time the Steelers have earned a bye as one of the top two seeds since 1992. If they advance to the AFC championship game, it would be their fifth in the past decade.

New England has been established as a prohibitive 2-1 favorite to win its fourth Super Bowl. The Steelers and Atlanta Falcons are second-favorites, each at 11-2 odds, according to Bodog.com.

"It's been like that every year for the Steelers," linebacker LaMarr Woodley said. "The year we won the Super Bowl it was the Titans. So they always count us out."

The Steelers will open against Indianapolis, Kansas City or Baltimore at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 15 at Heinz Field. They cannot play the New York Jets in that first game. The highest-seeded team to survive this weekend will play the Steelers, with the lowest seed playing at New England.

The Patriots and Steelers have met twice previously in the AFC championship game, both at Heinz Field after the 2001 and '04 seasons, and both won by New England.

"They're a great team," defensive end Brett Keisel said. "They've got a lot of weapons. We'll see how it all pans out. They've worked hard to get that No. 1 seed and they'll be a tough team to beat."

The Steelers, of course, also won a Super Bowl after the 2005 season when they were the first sixth seed to do so, winning three postseason games on the road and then beating Seattle in Detroit for their fifth NFL championship.

They say they appreciate this playoff spot a little more after what happened to them last season, when -- like this one -- they started out 6-2 as the defending champions and then collapsed, losing five in a row and missing the playoffs with a 9-7 record.

"It's great to bounce back after we had a year like we had last year when we went on that skid in the second half of the season," Keisel said. "It's great to finish strong in the second half of the season this year. We're proud to do that."

"Last year," Woodley said, "our fate was in other people's hands. We needed some teams to lose for us to get in, we put ourselves in that situation. This year we took control of our own situation."

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11004/1115391-66.stm#ixzz1A5btpvRU

01-06-2011, 12:51 PM
By Teresa Varley

Posted 17 hours ago

aaA year ago a disappointing headline in a local newspaper read, “Here’s why the Steelers failed.”

One year later, those headlines are gone, the memories of a season without the playoffs is in the distant past.

The 2010 Steelers are AFC North Champions, earning a first-round playoff bye and awaiting their opponent for a divisional playoff game at Heinz Field.

Oh yes, what a difference a year makes.

“I remember everybody talking about how disappointed they were watching everybody else play and not being a participant in the post-season,” said Hines Ward of last season. “It was a little embarrassing. It humbled a lot of guys, hungered a lot of guys when they came back.”

When they came back, they did so with an attitude of not letting anything stand in their way and coming together as one to turn that failure into success.

“It’s all about team – offense, defense and special teams,” said Ben Roethlisberger of why this year’s team has succeeded so far. “It’s about how close this locker room is. Maybe a better word, team is a sub-word, family is better. You start with the coaches, owners, and the Rooney family. We are family. That is the better word”

It doesn’t hurt when that “family” played better and eliminated the issues they had last year.

“We are a better team,” said James Farrior. “We execute better, we don’t beat ourselves and we keep the games close when you are at the end. We didn’t finish the games off last year like we were supposed to and lost a lot of leads at the end of the games. We haven’t been doing that this year.”

The Steelers lost five games in a row last year and as Farrior said, gave up leads late in games, both things they definitely weren’t used to, before winning the final three games of the season.

“You look at the games last year to this year we made plays in the fourth quarter. Last year we didn’t, this year we did,” said Chris Hoke. “I think it’s a big difference. You look in the first three quarters we always play tight games, but in the fourth quarter last year we didn’t make big plays and this year we did.”

After missing out on the playoffs in 2009 the players have a greater appreciation for what it takes to get there.

“It definitely gives you a better appreciation when you go through a season like last year and see what the opportunities are this year,” said Farrior. “You definitely appreciate it and don’t take it for granted.”

Hoke was one of those guys who last year ached watching other teams play, and is happy the tide has turned.

“You love going to the playoffs,” said Hoke. “You want the chance to go back to the Super Bowl. We know what it takes to be there and we have a drive to get back there. Last year when we didn’t make the playoffs it was tough to watch them and this year it’s nice to be in it.”

* * *

A scoring change from the Cleveland game gave LaMarr Woodley a full sack and took away a half sack from Larry Foote. Both players had received half a sack before the change was made by Elias Sports Bureau.

* * *

The Steelers offensive line received the “Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award” for their performance against the Cleveland Browns in Week 17.

The award is selected by Hall of Fame Coach John Madden and recognizes the role a team’s offensive line plays.

“The Steelers offensive line has been banged up throughout the season and overcame the loss of two experienced offensive tackles in Willie Colon and Max Starks and still had an excellent season,” said Madden. “Sunday afternoon the offensive line played smart, physical football and controlled the line of scrimmage allowing the offense to do what they wanted in the first-half.”

01-06-2011, 01:00 PM
Thursday, January 6, 2011

Good bye or not?

Since the NFL went to its current divisional setup in 2002, five times a team not receiving a first-round bye advanced to the Super Bowl. Three won the championship

2003 - Carolina (NFC 3rd seed, lost to New England in SB XXXVIII)

2005 - Steelers (AFC 6th seed, beat Seattle in SB XL)

2006 - Indianapolis (AFC 3rd seed, beat Chicago in SB XLI)

2007 - N.Y. Giants (NFC 5th seed, beat New England in SB XLII)

2008 - Arizona (NFC 4th seed, lost to Steelers in SB XLIII)

For Ben Roethlisberger, it's a been-there, done-that situation.

Five years ago, the Steelers took the path of most resistance in claiming the Super Bowl XL title. The Steelers won three consecutive road playoff games before beating Seattle to claim their fifth world title.

Two years ago, they took the path of least resistance — a first-round bye and two home playoff games before winning Super Bowl XLIII.

″Either way is fine for me if you are winning Super Bowls,″ safety Troy Polamalu said.

The Steelers will try the easier path again this year with the AFC's No. 2 seed and a first-round bye. They will play Jan. 15 in the divisional round against Kansas City, Indianapolis or Baltimore.

″You get an easier path to the Super Bowl,″ Wide receiver Hines Ward said. ″That is the reward for getting the bye week.″

That may have been the case in the past, but recently it has proven that it doesn't make much difference if a team gets a bye. Without one, a team still has decent odds of advancing to the Super Bowl.

In four of the past five years, a team that played on wild-card weekend has advanced to the Super Bowl. Three times that team has won the Super Bowl.

That's a big contrast from the early days of the current NFL playoff format. When the league went to two first-round byes in each conference in 1990, 16 of the 18 teams not playing the opening weekend eventually advanced to the Super Bowl.

The Steelers have done it both ways.

″The first Super Bowl we won, it would've hurt us if we had a bye week because we were in such a rhythm and such a focus,″ Polamalu said. ″The second time, it would've been irrelevant because we were playing so well.″

The Steelers historically have played well in the divisional round after getting a first-round bye. They are 6-1 lifetime, winning six in a row since a 1992 loss to Buffalo, 24-3, in a divisional round game at Three Rivers Stadium.

″It probably depends on if you have done it before,″ Roethlisberger said. ″If you have been there, is your team a veteran group, have they been to the playoffs, have they not? We have an older group, a veteran group, and I think this is the best thing for us to let some of those guys get rested and healthy.″

The Steelers are approaching the bye week as a reward and a chance to get healthy. Mike Tomlin has given days off to veterans such as Flozell Adams, James Farrior, Ward and Polamalu.

″It's great to have a bye week,″ Ward said ″To be able to get that chance of sit back and get guys healthy ... you can sit back and watch the other four teams beat up on each other.″

That's exactly what the Steelers did two years ago when they were the No. 2 seed. The Steelers played Baltimore in the AFC Championship Game and took on a fatigued Ravens team that had played 17 consecutive games before the title game because of a scheduling conflict that forced a Week 2 game in Houston to be postponed, thus making it their bye week.

The Steelers won the AFC title game, 23-14, and claimed Super Bowl XLIII two weeks later.

″That made a whole difference,″ Polamalu said.