By Teresa Varley
With just five games left in the season and a 6-5 record, the Steelers know what is on the line each week. "We've kind of dug ourselves in this situation," said defensive end Brett Keisel. "It's like a playoff atmosphere where we have to win games. It's not like we are saying we have to sweep out. We are just taking it one game at a time. We have to win this week."
The Steelers are singularly focused on beating the Raiders on Sunday at Heinz Field, not looking past them for even a second.
"You have to take just one game at a time," said Ward. "You can't worry about winning five in a row. You just have to focus on one game against Oakland. You just have to take that approach. We left ourselves behind the eight ball by not winning some of the games we felt like we should have won and for whatever reason we didn't. Our playoffs begin this week. That's the approach we take."
If the playoffs were to start today the Steelers would find themselves left out of the party. But they don't and if there is one thing that this team has proven is that there is no quit in them.
"The guys are really just concentrating on the task at hand, going out there and figuring out what we can do individually to help this team win so collectively we can go out there and get better," said Ward. "There is a little more sense of urgency as the week goes on preparing for Oakland and hopefully we can go out there and execute.
"That is the approach we have to take. We have to leave everything on the field. We just have to go out there and maintain our composure, continue to execute and I think we'll be fine."
Ward apologized to his teammates on Wednesday for creating a stir from comments that he made, which at the time he thought were just innocent emotions.
Ward spoke with NBC-TV for a feature used prior to the Sunday night game against the Ravens about Ben Roethlisberger being sidelined for the game. Ward talked to Roethlisberger on Tuesday and the rest of the team on Wednesday.
"We talked. I'm not going to get into what was specifically said,'' said Ward. "The issue's been resolved.
"I apologized to the team today for having to even answer questions about this. We've moved on and are getting ready for Oakland."
Ward's comments were interpreted by some that players were taking sides as to whether or not Roethlisberger should play while suffering headaches from a concussion he suffered against the Chiefs.
"It's almost like a 50-50 toss up in the locker room. Should he play? Shouldn't he play? It's really hard to say,'' Ward said in the interview.
But what he meant was something completely different, explaining the 50/50 comment more in detail.
"The 50/50 comment was people playing with concussions, people playing without," said Ward. "Maybe it was the wrong choice of words. Have guys played in this league with concussions before? I'm pretty sure a lot of guys in this league have. Every case is different. It wasn't like I was trying to say that half of the locker room was divided or half was mad at Ben for not playing. I just think people misinterpreted that whole interview."