Prisuta: Sounds About Right
Media awaiting Mike Tomlin's words of wisdom in a room adjacent to the visitor's locker room could hear the Steelers gleefully celebrating. The decibel level was such that it easily leaked through the walls in the bowels of the facility. It wasn't audible but it was unmistakable, a glorious noise. Once the media was allowed inside the locker room the mood had shifted considerably. An obvious celebration was quickly tempered by perspective. But even then the Steelers allowed themselves the indulgence of discussing the playoffs. Playoffs? Did s-s-s-somebody say p-p-p-playoffs? Nobody had been talking about that the previous week in Cleveland. But that was then and this was now. A sampling: * Larry Foote: "It's our job to make sure our young guys and guys just getting here, they can't blink. They gotta believe that we can get it done. The Giants did it twice, the Packers; all you gotta do is get a ticket and anything can happen." * Brett Keisel: "Hopefully we can grab this momentum and ride it and win these December ballgames coming up and go into the playoffs hot." * Heath Miller: "It doesn't mean a lot if we don't build on it." As is often the case, Miller's perspective is especially on point. The Steelers still need to beat the Bengals on Dec. 23, and that game would have been no less significant had the Steelers lost to the Ravens, assuming neither the Steelers nor the Bengals trip themselves up on the way to that much-anticipated rematch. So the value of merely keeping pace with the Bengals, staying just ahead of Cincinnati in the race for the AFC's second wild card, is negligible. But the value of beating Baltimore in terms of the emotional boost the Steelers have clearly gleaned might be incalculable. Especially if and when the Steelers and Ravens do battle yet again, which would be in the postseason in January. The Steelers, ever mindful that there's a lot of football left before such a scenario materializes, were still willing to look that far ahead. "Absolutely," Foote maintained. "If we can get in, I'm quite sure." The Steelers' victory made that best-of-three final with Baltimore a little more plausible, given the damage done to the Ravens in their quest for a top-two seed and a bye week, rather than another potential hosting of the Steelers. "We just want to get into the playoffs," Ryan Clark said. "If they win the AFC North, that's fine. If we get another opportunity to play 'em we won't be scared, and preferably we get that chance. "It's good because of the things you heard after we lost the last time, them being more physical, more mentally tough. Those are things we pride ourselves on. So we wanted to come in here and do well and put our mental toughness up against theirs', put our physicality up against theirs'. "And I think in the end we won."