The Steelers playoff hopes took a distinctive hit on Sunday with a disappointing 34-28 loss to the Miami Dolphins, but while the hopes might be slim, they do still exist.
"A lot has to happen, but you never know," said defensive end Ziggy Hood. "You don't want to look back and say we didn't take care of what we had to. We don't want to say we should have done this or that. We have to keep looking up, keep our heads up and do what we know we can do."
One thing that Hood knows won't happen is the team just gives up. A 5-8 record has them near the back of the pack of those contending for a playoff spot, but players are approaching it as if their chance is as good as anyone.
"We can do one of two things, tank or stand up after getting knocked down," said Hood. "I believe in my heart we are going to stand. Knees may be wobbling, ankles may be hurting, but we are going to stand and stand tall. Even if we have to brace each other on our shoulders and backs, we are going to stand tall."
He isn't the only one that feels that way.
"I don't see this team giving up, lying down or anything," said running back Le'Veon Bell. "We have competitors who want to get this going in the right direction so we will do whatever it takes."
The Steelers will have to do just that this week when the AFC North division leading Cincinnati Bengals visit Heinz Field.
"The guys are going to be ready," said receiver Jerricho Cotchery. "You won't see any quit in these guys. We haven't done that all year long. We have a great group of guys, the way we stick with each other and the way we prepare every week. It is nothing like I have seen before in my career. It's a great atmosphere here, even in the midst of adversity. I wouldn't want to go through anything like this with anyone other than the group we have here.
"It's a great group of guys. The guys will be ready to play."
The Steelers will hold their annual Toys for Tots drive when they host the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on Sunday, Dec. 15 at Heinz Field.
Uniformed Marines will be on hand collecting new toys at all gates to be given to needy kids in the Pittsburgh area. Toys should not be wrapped, and they ask that there be no weapon toys. The Marines will be set up outside the Heinz Field security perimeter to collect the toys.