By Teresa Varley
Steelers.com The Steelers had the toughest schedule in the NFL this year, but they didn't let it intimidate them or have any kind of effect on how they approached the season.
"When our schedule first came out we looked at it and took a sigh," said wide receiver Nate Washington. "There was no question about what we could do. Coach (Mike) Tomlin preaches to us day in, day out, it's not about what they do, it is about what we do."
Linebacker James Farrior knew that whether it was the league's easiest or toughest schedule, the goal was going to remain the same.
"Our goal never changes at the beginning of the season," said Tomlin. "It's always the same. Mike Tomlin gave us the schedule and we took it personal. We knew we had a tough schedule, we knew it was going to be a tough road.
"He let us know the schedule doesn't matter. We play who we play. He told us you can't worry about variables you can't control."
The Cardinals wide receivers, led by Larry Fitzgerald who has been amazing this post-season, are getting plenty of well-deserved praise these days.
And while Nate Washington agrees with the compliments they are receiving, he knows that the Steelers wide receivers are more in the background and he is fine with that.
"We have had the underdog thing all year," said Washington. "Hines is 'too slow,' Santonio hasn't made the breakout play, I have had drops. We have been underdogs all year. It doesn't matter to us. Ben (Roethlisberger) said this is a band of brothers. This whole team has taken a lot of criticism, people saying we couldn't do it especially when the schedule came out. We never got down on ourselves and we believed in each other and that's what brought us to where we are today."
After going through a bit of a lull late in the season when it comes to sacks, linebacker LaMarr Woodley leads the Steelers in getting to the quarterback with four sacks this post-season.
"I guess during the playoffs is when you want to go out there and play your best games, go out there and continue to win so you don't go home," said Woodley. "Right now, being on this defense I would definitely go out there and give it my all so we have the opportunity to be where we are today."