When the NFL decided to flex the Steelers-Bengals game and move it to Sunday Night Football, they knew exactly what they were doing.
Why wouldn't they want a game that is going to be electric, exciting, and filled with drama as two teams fight for the AFC North as the final game of the 2014 regular season? It literally is a matchup made for prime time television.
"These are the types of games you play for," said receiver Lance Moore. "The matchup, so much on the line and it happens to be the last game of the season. Both teams will be ready. We are happy to have it here. We are definitely looking forward to it. Everybody should be excited."
The Steelers are 12-2 in regular season finales since the 2000 season, tied with Green Bay for the best Week 17 record in that time frame. They are definitely looking to improve on that.
"You work through the season to put yourself in position to win the division," said tight end Heath Miller. "It's what we are playing for, the last game of the year and hopefully we can take care of business and continue on our path."
The Steelers are also 6-0 at Heinz Field in Week 17 games and have defeated the Bengals in the only two final week regular season games they played in (1974 and 2006).
"It means everything," said running back Le'Veon Bell. "It's for the division. It comes down to this. It's for home field in the playoffs."
The impact of the game isn't lost on the younger players either, who see the intensity and know what Sunday night means.
"This is definitely the perfect scenario," said rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier. "It can't get any better. It's a playoff atmosphere, we have to win this game to win the division and get home field for the first playoff game. We have to get this 'W' to let everyone know we are a good team, we are moving forward and we are taking the steps to get to the next level.
"I can see it getting to that peaking point, the way we practice, the way everyone is playing. You can tell it's not the same as the beginning of the season. We have to take care of our business and do what we do."
A look at the Bengals:Coach Mike Tomlin on Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton:"Any time you talk about playing a quarterback like Andy Dalton with the type of above-the-neck talent that he has and the autonomy that he has within their offense, we not only have to be good post-snap but we have to be good pre-snap in terms of not providing predictable looks and doing a great job of disguising late into the play clock, so he doesn't get an opportunity to get them in great place."
What the Steelers are saying:
Linebacker Ryan Shazier on the team bonding:"We have been getting closer as a team and showing each other how much we care. When you show each other how much you care you play harder for each other. I feel like that's another reason we have been playing so well."
**Cornerback Antwon Blake on playing at home in prime time:
"This is the perfect environment to play in, especially the situation we are in. It will be great to play in front of the home crowd and try to get the win we need so the season can be what we want it to be. I feel like everyone in America knows what we have at stake and the environment at Heinz Field will be raised to the next level."
Linebacker Jarvis Jones on playing at home on Sunday night:"You know you have the full support there. The city is behind you and you have your crowd. There isn't any better place to play than at home in front of our fans with their towels waving. I can't wait to see it."