By Teresa Varley
Steelers.com On Sunday night Steelers players enjoyed the moment, relished the excitement of winning the AFC Championship in a hard-fought battle against the Baltimore Ravens to advance to Super Bowl XLIII.
But on Monday, it was back to business. Their journey was still ongoing, their goal not accomplished.
It was time to put the fun aside and as head coach Mike Tomlin would say, focus on the task at hand.
"I think after everybody woke up today the celebration was over," said wide receiver Nate Washington. "That's another thing Coach Tomlin does great, he preaches humbleness. We know we haven't done anything yet. The things we have done are the things we expected to do. Now we have to come back and get focused on the task. We should be able to do that."
The Steelers gathered for an afternoon team meeting and it was business as usual, which means breaking into individual meetings and watching film as the preparation for the Arizona Cardinals was paramount for all players.
"We had to come in to work today," said linebacker James Farrior of the celebration ending. "We had fun last night and enjoyed it. But our goal is to win the World Championship and that is the only thing on our minds right now."
Farrior knows a little bit about winning the "big game," having been a key part in the Steelers Super Bowl XL victory. He uses his role as a team captain and defensive leader to share that knowledge.
"For the guys who were a part of the first one we know what it takes to get there," said Farrior. "We want to make sure the young guys know it's a big moment and this is the way we do it, just follow us and we will lead the way."
If being the Pied Piper is what he has in mind, he definitely has at least a few followers among the young linebackers who wear the black and gold.
LaMarr Woodley, who was still at Michigan when the Steelers headed to Detroit for Super Bowl XL, has been like a sponge, taking it all in and listening to the stories, yearning to be a part of it.
"Since I have been here a lot of guys on defense have talked about how good it feels to go to the Super Bowl," said Woodley. "A lot of us younger guys haven't had the opportunity to participate in that. One thing they have above us is they have a ring."
Before the season ended Woodley sat around a table at the team's annual linebacker dinner. He looked around at his sharp-dressed teammates and kept noticing one thing that guys like Farrior, James Harrison and Larry Foote all had in common. They all had a ring on their finger.
"I looked at my finger and I didn't have one but it would be nice to have one," said Woodley. "Coach Butler asked who has a ring. The majority of us didn't. We just had our dinner and all of the guys had their rings on with their nice suits and kind of rubbed it in our faces."
And made Woodley and Lawrence Timmons desire it more and more by the minute.
"It was definitely motivation," said Woodley. "When you see guys with that, you want to go and get that. You want to be able to put on one of those rings one day. That is everyone's goal in this league.
"The guys who have one want to experience it again. For the guys that don't have one, we want to be a part of that. Being this early in our career you don't know when you might have the opportunity again. You have to take advantage of it when it is right here in your face."