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'Finish the job'

Posted Jan 5, 2018

Mitchell: Steelers' progression must end with Lombardi.

The Steelers won 13 games for the fourth time in franchise history in the 2017 regular season, including their first sweep of their division since 2008, but it’s the upcoming postseason that’s destined to define them.

“Welcome to Pittsburgh,” free safety Mike Mitchell offered.

For the Steelers, the playoffs are annually a Super Bowl-or-bust proposition.

It’s always that way for the franchise with six Vince Lombardi trophies in the trophy case, and there’s no getting around that absolute.

“There really isn’t,” Mitchell continued. “But at the end of the day, why else do you do it? The whole goal is for us to be a world champion. I haven’t been coming in at 6 a.m. for four years consecutively, every day to not win it.

“It would be a disappointment to win 13 games and not win a Super Bowl. It would be like, ‘Damn, we did all of that for nothing.’”

That helps to explain Mitchell’s relative lack of excitement for the opening of the upcoming playoffs, at least at this week’s bye week stage of preparation.

“It’s always a good thing to know that you’re in the tournament but I’m not excited,” he said. “This is like more of an, ‘OK, got the first part done,’ it’s more of a relief-type thing. And now it’s the more serious job of, we know we gotta win three, which is hopefully easier than winning four.”

This is the first postseason bye in Mitchell’s four seasons with the Steelers, all of which have resulted in trips to the playoffs.

In 2014, the Steelers were eliminated by Baltimore in a Wild Card game.

In 2015, they lost in the divisional round at Denver.

And last season they made it to the AFC Championship Game, where they were beaten by the Patriots in New England.

“I think we have a Super Bowl-champion team,” Mitchell said. “It’s just a matter of us going and winning three games. I believed that when we were 10-6 (in 2015), I think we just made more mistakes. I believed that when we were 11-5 (in 2014 and 2016), we just made more mistakes than we did this year.

“I think we have a championship team, we’ve had a championship team, it’s just going to be us putting it all together. I keep saying that, but really it’s just for me and guys like Ryan (Shazier) that have been here for four years. It’s our senior year. We’ve gotten a step closer every year. Finish the job in your senior year.”