Tuesday, November 28, 2006
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Steelers will play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, and the two teams will be all dressed up with nowhere to go. If management at Fox isn't scratching its head over why it opted to move this game from 1 p.m. to a national stage at 4:15 p.m. its viewers may very well be.
The Steelers are 4-7 and the Buccaneers 3-8, neither on a track to become bowl eligible. It is a game pitting recent Super Bowl winners, not contenders. The Buccaneers won their first Super Bowl after the 2002 season and the Steelers are defending champs.
"You have to lick your wounds and keep coming to work," Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel explained after a 27-0 loss Sunday in Baltimore. "We still have five games left. We can't just lay down. We have to pick ourselves up and get going."
The word "pride" was on the lips of many Steelers when they thought about what they have to play for the rest of the way.
"Every time we play we want to win," linebacker Larry Foote said. "The record doesn't really matter, we just have to win every game. ... It definitely becomes pride."
Guard Kendall Simmons warned against teammates letting down the rest of the season.
"These next five games are all about pride now. If you go into the tank now, then you don't need to be playing. That's just how it is.
"It's still a team effort but it's more or less on the individual now. You have to hold yourself accountable. It will show big-time over the next five games who tanks it and who doesn't."
Hold the applause
The Steelers were impressed with the Ravens but not yet ready to declare them favorites to succeed them as Super Bowl champs.
"I don't know about Super Bowl team," Willie Parker said, "but they're a pretty good defense."
"They're a good team," Alan Faneca said. "Good defense, good schemes. They bring that every year. I'm not going to give anybody a great team, but they're definitely a good team."
The Steelers get a chance to evaluate the 9-2 Ravens again at Heinz Field on Christmas Eve.
"They showed why they were one of the best teams in this league," linebacker Clark Haggans said. "But we have to see them again, so hopefully guys remember this and come out and play hard.''