Players embrace 'win-and-in' mentality

The task at hand is Kansas City, but don't think for a second the Steelers haven't grasped the win-and-they're-in ramifications associated with beating the Chiefs on Sunday.

"You have to," guard Ramon Foster insisted. "It would be dumb of us not to. It would be silly of us not to want to play in A-Z."

"A-Z" is Arizona, where Super Bowl XLIX will be staged on Feb. 1 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

The first step along the road there is to qualify for the AFC's postseason tournament, something the Steelers haven't done since the 2011 season.

They would snap that two season playoffless streak with a victory over Kansas City, a task that will require the Steelers to keep their eye on the ball but not on the out-of-town scoreboard.

The Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for the game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

"We don't have to worry about anything else outside of our stadium," running back Le'Veon Bell noted. "We win, we're in, and that's all that really matters. We don't have to worry about any other teams or what they're doing or who lost or who won.

"It takes all our headaches away."

The Steelers had plenty of those in the wake of a 35-32 loss to New Orleans on Nov. 30 at Heinz Field.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger maintained the team has been in playoff mode ever since, which, in his estimation, makes the Kansas City game just another in a succession of games the Steelers have been approaching and embracing as must-win affairs.

"The last couple games have been playoff games for us," Roethlisberger maintained. "We've had to take that approach, that mind-set because of how important every game was, where we were record-wise, seed-wise, whatever you want to call it.

"We've kind of had the mentality for the last couple weeks that it's time to get hot and play your best football. We're just going to try to continue to do that."

Foster appreciates not only the position the Steelers are in, but also how they've evolved as a team and positioned themselves to take full advantage of the opportunity that the victories on Dec. 7 in Cincinnati and last Sunday in Atlanta have created.

"I think guys get it," Foster emphasized. "That's what I'm excited to see. The young guys who are playing, the older guys who are leading the younger guys, the play-makers making plays; that's something we can control.

"Focusing on us is something that we haven't done the last few years. We've been hoping and wishing for other teams to do stuff for us. We're not living in that world any more. We have to control this and take advantage of it."

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