Steelers still in playoff picture at 5-7
The Sports Xchange
NFL Team Report - Pittsburgh Steelers - INSIDE SLANT
AFC with a 5-7 record.
True but not amazing is they must beat Miami, one of two teams ahead of them at 6-6, to stay in that thickness.
The Dolphins play in Heinz Field on Sunday and if the Steelers beat them, only Baltimore, which also is 6-6, would be ahead of them, provided the Ravens beat Minnesota on Sunday.
There is no time for them to look back or wonder what-if, however.
"We have to understand, we put ourselves in this situation," linebacker LaMarr Woodley said.
Pittsburgh did it by losing its first four games for the first time in 45 years, then coming in at 2-6 at the midway point. That the Steelers have any chance at all is stunning. They feel they have to win their final four to get in but they are not exactly in the greatest shape to do so.
They lost three offensive linemen in last Thursday's 22-20 loss in Baltimore and could have three new starters Sunday. One definitely will be Cody Wallace at center for Fernando Velasco, who was placed on injured reserve with a torn Achilles. Cody Wallace, who has played 58 snaps in the NFL, will make his first pro start in his place.
They also lost starting left tackle Kelvin Beachum with a sprained right knee and starting right guard David DeCastro to a sprained foot. Mike Tomlin listed both as questionable early in the week but Beachum definitely will not play. Mike Adams will return to start at left tackle, where he lost his job after playing poorly in the first four games.
The shuffling in the offensive line has been a constant for the Steelers since the 2011 season and they've searched for ways to keep them healthy, to no avail. They tried new stretching techniques before practice and many of the linemen wore knee braces during practices, but the injuries continue.
"We'll make do as we always do," Tomlin said. "We'll start with the healthy people. We acknowledge that there are some issues in that area that we're working on. We also acknowledge that we have capable professionals that we believe in and given a week to prepare, we expect quality performance. I really think that's the point to be made in regards to injuries."
SERIES HISTORY: 22nd regular-season meeting. Steelers lead series that began in 1971, 12-9, including 6-2 in Pittsburgh. Miami holds a 2-1 advantage in the post-season, winning two AFC title games that launched them into Super Bowls, where they were 1-1. Ben Roethlisberger made his first NFL start in Miami after a hurricane and a delayed start in 2004, won by the Steelers 13-3. The teams last met in 2010, a game in Miami won by Pittsburgh 23-22. The Dolphins have not played in Heinz Field since 2007.
NFL Team Report - Pittsburgh Steelers - NOTES, QUOTES
--Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was fined $100,000 for stepping onto the playing field and altering the path of return man Jacoby Jones in Baltimore Thanksgiving night.
Tomlin called what he did "embarrassing, inexcusable, illegal, and a blunder . . . I take full responsibility for my actions on that play."
--With three home games among their final four, the Steelers may have some kind of advantage. But the home folks are staying away in droves. Heinz Field holds 65,500 and they've averaged just 60,753 through five games. That would be the second-lowest attendance ever, just above their 59,698 when they went 6-10 in 2003. However, with three games left in December and a 5-7 record, there is potential for them to dip below their all-time low at Heinz.
BY THE NUMBERS: 20 - Games the Steelers have now gone without producing a 100-yard runner. They rank 31st in the league in rushing.