After seeing their playoff hopes fizzle a week ago, the Steelers hope to get some payback today in their season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bengals (8-7) have a slim chance to get into the postseason. They must win today -- thereby sweeping their season series against the Steelers (7-8) -- plus get a little help from at least one other team.
Cincinnati also needs either Oakland to beat the New York Jets, or upset victories by Kansas City and San Francisco.
Of course, the Steelers could make all the scoreboard watching in Cincy a moot point by beating the Bengals.
"It would make me feel a little bit better about my offseason if we can knock them out," Steelers linebacker Joey Porter said. "I don't want them to find a way in by beating us twice. That wouldn't sit well with me or anyone else in this locker room. If we can play the spoiler, then that's what we're going to do."
Coming into the season, this game was expected to be a showdown for the AFC North crown. Cincinnati and Pittsburgh each went 11-5 last season -- the Bengals won the division title on a tiebreaker, and the Steelers went on to win Super Bowl XL.
The Steelers were supposed to be building a new dynasty, while the Bengals were supposed to be on the rise after years in the dumps.
Instead, both teams are jockeying for runner-up status behind the playoff-bound Baltimore Ravens.
"There were a lot of expectations," Steelers receiver Hines Ward said. "We were supposed to be the two teams battling it out. It didn't work out that way."
The Bengals slid to the brink of elimination by losing their past two games, 34-16 against Indianapolis and 24-23 against Denver. They began the game against Denver able to clinch a playoff spot but lost when they botched a point-after kick with 41 seconds to play.
"There's been a lot of moments this season when we didn't finish things the way we should," Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis said. "You put yourself in a situation where you're at the mercy of others.
"The only thing we can worry about now is the Steelers. It's a big game for us anytime we play them."
The Bengals pulled out a 28-20 victory in September at Heinz Field. For the Steelers, that was part of an agonizing 2-6 start to the season.