"Thankfully, perseverance is a good substitute for talent." - Steve Martin
That may be the Pittsburgh Steelers season in a nutshell. The lack of talent behind the starters, as well as the underachieving, has been evident. To a man, however, the Steelers are persevering and intend to go out on Sunday and win.
Ben Roethlisberger said that Sunday's game is important for the 7-8 Steelers because "one of my goals coming in was to never be below .500." - http://tinyurl.com/bsne9pl
Honorable. Let's be real about this, Ben wants to play entire game Sunday. He should. He should want to lead his team to victory and avoid a losing record, something has never experienced as a professional. Neither he nor the rest of the rest of the Steelers care about draft positioning right, just a win Sunday against their longtime rivals, the Cleveland Browns. - http://blog.steelers.com/2012/12/27/steelers-playing-for-pride/
I've read various media articles and a smattering of posts and comments on social media that have suggested the Steelers should tank the last game for a better draft pick. Things like "#TankForTeo" and other such posts and suggestions are prevalent, but unnecessary.
Sure, this is the time when there are concerns about Pro Bowl snubs -- Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Clark (who were selected as alternates) and Larry Foote all had seasons that could be considered Pro Bowl-esque -- as well as concerns about futures. - http://tinyurl.com/bsv98by - http://tinyurl.com/bur8f62
For the moment, though, these are men who are solely concerned about one thing, beating the Browns and salvaging their season.
Additionally, per Tom Bradley, @TomScrapBradley on Twitter, Steelers Broadcast Network and Clear Channel radio analyst, the "Steelers have not lost four at home since 2003, have not lost four in a row since 2009 and have not been swept by the Browns since 1988."
Those are not records the team wants to match or break this Sunday. According to Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley, also, they look to even use it as a "springboard."
"I think a win in the last game or the last two games," Haley said, "whatever opportunity you have has a springboard effect for you. That's what we need to do, get this going in a positive direction to finish the season." - http://blog.steelers.com/2012/12/27/coordinators-corner-haley-lebeau-7/
To do that, the Steelers will want to prevent some other things from being matched as well. In the last three games against the Browns, the Steelers have scored just 41 points (14, 13 and 14).
A feat that will be even more difficult now that both wide receiver Mike Wallace and tight end and team MVP Heath Miller have been placed on Injured Reserve. Fans will likely see a version of the Steelers offense on Sunday that will be seen again at the start of next season.
If the Steelers offense does stall again on Sunday, they'll have to hope their defense is able to offer a rude welcome to the Browns starting quarterback...um...wait...sorry, ladies and gentlemen, I have to check...oh, here it is, Thaddeus Lewis.
A rude awakening from a defense that unfortunately has blown six 4th-quarter leads this season, four of them resulting in losses. A fact of which defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is well aware.
"Well, the truth of the matter is we didn't get off to a really good start on defense," LeBeau said. "I don't think it was ever quite as bad as it was perceived to be but we weren't playing the way we wanted to play."
Part of the reason for this is that splash plays were at a minimum all season. Safety Ryan Clark said that was one thing that was absent all year. The making of key plays to turn the tide.
"If you look at our years when we went 12-4 and went to Super Bowls, we didn't blow people out," said Clark. "But, in these types of games, we find ways to make plays in the fourth quarter. That was the story all year. We find a way, defensively, offensively, or on special teams not to make a play."
That being the case, it might not be a bad idea to play more of the younger talent that ones were so high on. Talent that for some reason only saw limited action.
To be specific, Cameron Heyward who only saw approximately 200 snaps on defense and Steve McLendon who saw even fewer. To listen to John Mitchell, regarding McLendon at least, you would've thought that they should've had more than that. It isn't troubling McLendon, though, as he believes his time will come. - http://sulia.com/channel/pittsburgh-steelers/f/00e5ac6c-e93d-4d49-8f13-08b20c0f3acb/?source=twitter
Let's hope that time is now. Through pride and perseverance, let's go out winning and let other issues work themselves out in April.
TIDBITS: INJURY/PRACTICE Report: Steelers - OUT: T Mike Adams (ankle/IR), CB Curtis Brown (ankle/IR), LB Marshall McFadden (abdomen), WR Mike Wallace (hip/IR)
PROBABLE: G David DeCastro (hamstring), CB Keenan Lewis (knee), S Troy Polamalu
Oh, Norman... Mark Kaboly says Boomer Esiason is way out of line with these comments about Ben Roethlisberger: http://sulia.com/channel/pittsburgh-steelers/f/66eb06e0-4bd8-48ff-b5df-0cfc48d8dc73/?source=twitter
Steelers signed wide receiver David Gilreath and nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu from the practice squad, placed Mike Wallace, Curtis Brown and Mike Adams on IR.