The Pittsburgh Steelers traveled to Paul Brown Stadium for an AFC North matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals.
That was the resolve with which the Steelers took the field on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
They knew the Bengals would clinch the AFC North Division championship with a victory.
But they were determined to extend the race for first place at least another week.
"A lot was made of them being able to clinch, win the division, get in the playoffs," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger observed after the Steelers' 33-20 victory. "We didn't want us to be the reason they got in."
The Bengals (10-3) still lead the Steelers (8-5) by two games with three remaining.
But the clinching will have to wait.
"Not this week," defensive end Cam Heyward said. "I think we all knew this was a critical week for us. We're just trying to keep pace.
"We're going to continue to work and play like we still have a shot at this. You never know what can happen."
HEEEEEEEATH: Tight end Heath Miller led the Steelers with 10 catches, for 66 yards, matching the 10 passes he'd caught against the Bengals on Nov. 1.
"We have a chemistry; we've played together for so long," Roethlisberger said. "I've said many times he's probably the best teammate I've ever been around and one of the best all-around tight ends in the game.
"He's making tough catches, he's catching screens. On the last drive he cuts off a guy on the backside. Not a lot of tight ends would stick their nose in there and spring a big run. He does it and is just so selfless about it."
SPREADING THE WORD:** Safety Will Allen made a point of greeting his teammates one by one as they entered the visitor's locker room after the game.
That's normally a job that's handled by head coach Mike Tomlin. But Allen thought the circumstances of what had just taken place deserved his attention.
"I felt as a leader on the team, as a leader on the defense, I wanted to let everybody know it was a job well done, well executed and well detailed," Allen said. "We came into a hostile environment and did our business."
Allen thought the Steelers reinforced what they've believed all along while in the process of earning a season split with Cincinnati.
"This whole journey is about us," he said. "As long as we stay focused, stay positive, be detailed and execute at a high level, that's going to work in our favor."
POISE UNDER PRESSURE: Sunday's festivities included a near brawl in the pregame warm-up after Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict head-butted Steelers linebacker Vince Williams. There were also unnecessary roughness penalties on both sides a mere two snaps into the game, plenty of post-whistle pushing and shoving, lots of jawing and what Roethlisberger described as "a lot of extracurricular stuff going on under piles."
Safety Mike Mitchell maintained the Steelers know how to handle themselves in such a setting.
"We're a professional football team," he said. "This is a class organization. We're not MMA fighters. We're trying to play football between the lines. That's what we're here to do. That's what we did.
"We're the Steelers, we play our way, play our style. We don't really change for anybody. Jumping around and coming across our 50-yard line (as Burfict had in the warm-up), the tweets and stuff before the game; man; we're not MAA fighters. We're not into selling fights. We're not into selling the game.
"We're the Pittsburgh Steelers. We show up at 1 p.m., that sells us. We're here to play football and I think that's what we did today."
Added defensive end Stephon Tuitt: "You can't intimidate us. We're not intimidated. We're never intimidated. No team can intimidate us."
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: Tuitt's first career interception occurred on second-and-goal from the Steelers' 4-yard line on Cincinnati's first possession, but Tuitt had seen the play before.
"I saw the play many times throughout the week in practice," Tuitt said. "The way I reacted is the way I reacted from how we did in practice."
THEY SAID IT: "I probably like them a little less. They probably don't like us very much, either. That's the way it is and that's football. It's a beautiful thing." - guard David DeCastro on Steelers-Bengals.
"If this is our best game we're in the wrong league. We gotta keep going." - Heyward on the Steelers.
"We're a football team that's on the rise. We know what we want to get. This team was in the way and we knew we had to have it." - Mitchell on Steelers-Bengals.