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DeCastro: 'understand the urgency'

Posted Nov 9, 2017

Steelers grasp significance of season's second half.

The eight games remaining in the regular season aren’t any more important than the first eight, but the Steelers are embracing them as if that’s the case.

Sunday’s game in Indianapolis _ win, lose or draw _ will factor into the standings in the same manner as the Steelers’ season-opening win over Cleveland and their Week Two overtime loss in Chicago.

They all count one.

But with the bye behind them and the season’s second half about to commence, the Steelers are beginning to count them down.

“Understand the urgency that comes with second-half NFL football,” guard David DeCastro advised. “These November and December games are almost weighted a little more.

“I hope everyone understands the emphasis and focus we need to have, even though we have a couple-game lead in the division.”

The Steelers will visit the Colts at 6-2 and having achieved separation, for the time being, at least, in the AFC North Division (Baltimore is 4-5, Cincinnati is 3-5 and Cleveland is 0-8).

But the Steelers also have designs on more than a division title.

They’re aware the Patriots are also 6-2, and that the Chiefs (6-3) are in hot pursuit in the AFC.

“You can kind of see where the positioning is,” DeCastro continued. “You can see it right in front of you.

“There’s so much jockeying going on in that first half (of the season). Last year, we kind of threw some games away, if you will, but once the second half came around, we were like, ‘We gotta win ’em now.’ It’ll be interesting how we play the second half.”

The timing of last week’s bye split the regular season into two eight-game segments.

The turning of the page coincides with the turning of the calendar into what head coach Mike Tomlin likes to refer to as “November and December ball.”

The connotation is the stakes are raised.

“Having that bye in the middle is really nice, kinda saying that you have a tale of two halves of the season,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “This is our second half, what are we going to do going forward? It starts right now.

“Our defense is playing great. I hope they continue to play great and get better. Offensively, it’s a good time for us to say, ‘OK, put that first half behind us. Let’s look forward to these last eight games of the season, taking it one game at a time.’”

That’s the way the Steelers always attempt to take them.

But the circumstances are different this time, and will be the rest of the way.

Or, will they?

“Yes and no,” safety Mike Mitchell offered. “I say that because every game is important. But obviously, as we get down to the final stretch the games become more significant, as they should.

“We still need to come in with the same approach. We need to be 1-0 this week.”