Cornerback Joe Haden acknowledged the obvious, he’s already reached out to his former teammates in Cleveland.
“I’ve talked to a couple of them, giving them some motivation,” Haden admitted.
Offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva said he contemplated ways of doing the same but ultimately opted against such an approach.
“I was thinking about it this morning,” Villanueva explained after practice today. “I was thinking about going, ‘(Joe) Schobert, you’re not as good as (Luke) Kuechly. Myles Garrett, you can’t get as many sacks as Von Miller in a single game.’ This morning I thought I was going to be the funny guy and call out Browns players, but I don’t want to win in that way. I don’t want to have to depend on another team and say petty things, even thought they’re obviously joking.
“Obviously, we wish them the best. But when it comes to the Steelers we did this to ourselves. We deserve what we get.”
The scenarios that can get the Steelers from here to the postseason are not appealing.
They need to beat the Bengals on Sunday at Heinz Field and have the Browns beat or tie the Ravens in Baltimore.
Or, the Steelers need to tie the Bengals and have the Browns beat the Ravens.
Or, the Steelers need to beat the Bengals and have the Colts and Titans tie.
Under no circumstance would a Steelers’ victory be enough.
Guard David DeCastro called such circumstances “deflating,” but allowed things could be worse.
“You’d feel a lot worse than you do right now if you were to go out there and see Baltimore lose and us lose, too,” DeCastro said. “Hopefully, people realize that, and I think they do.
“It’s definitely deflating, I’m not going to sit here and say it’s not and lie to you. It’s been a long season, a lot of effort, especially the last game, the way it went. At the same time, you have to keep going.”
That last game, a 31-28 loss last Sunday in New Orleans, wasn’t decided until wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster fumbled at the Saints’ 34-yard line and New Orleans recovered with 32 seconds left in regulation.
But the door remains open, the Steelers simply need help pushing their way through it.
“I’m like Jim Carrey right now in ‘Dumb and Dumber,’” guard Ramon Foster offered. “‘So you’re saying we have a chance,’ that’s where I’m at.”
It’s a chance the Steelers might be capable of taking advantage of in the playoffs should they qualify, based on the way they played against New England and in New Orleans.
“I kinda feel like we found a groove in a sense,” Foster continued. “We’ve found some stuff that’s been working for us lately.
“It’s been unfortunate, we’ve kinda caused a lot of turmoil ourselves and that’s what’s disheartening about it. The stuff that we can control we should have controlled and we didn’t.”
Added cornerback Mike Hilton: “It came down to a final drive (in New Orleans). We were happy about how we played. We let some plays go, and some calls were missed, obviously, in our opinion, but we can’t control that. It was a good performance for us, just wish it turned out differently.
“We know how talented we are. In a playoff run, anything can happen. We’re confident if we get in, we feel like we can make a deep run.”
PHOTOS: Practice - Bengals Week - Day 1
The Steelers prepare for the Week 17 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals