A little bit of this, and a little bit of that as the Steelers prepare to take on the Baltimore Ravens.
On the run: The Ravens rank first in the AFC in rush defense, second overall in the NFL. But running the ball against them on Sunday, something the Steelers weren't able to do in the first meeting this year, is going to be paramount. Getting Le'Veon Bell going will be a huge key.
"It's crucially important," said Roosevelt Nix. "Once you establish that you can establish play action, the pass. Being able to run the ball in December is a critical part of the season. It's essential to the game."
Having Nix blocking for the ground game is a huge help, something that Nix missed out on when he was inactive the first five weeks of the season.
"Not being able to play that was something tough to deal with mentally," said Nix. "Being able to be back out there with the guys, it just feels good to be back out there and be a factor in the wins."
Team effort: The Steelers are on a five-game winning streak, with credit for the success being given to a wide variety of things. David DeCastro, who is headed to his second Pro Bowl this year, said coming together for well-rounded victories has been the key.
"That is huge. That is a big key," said DeCastro. "That is what has been successful on this winning streak, being able to control the game offensively, defensively and special teams. Having team wins, especially late in the season, is the way to do it."Like a kid at Christmas: While young kids are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus on Christmas morning, Steelers' players are equally excited about Christmas afternoon when they get to wear their 'color rush' uniforms against the Ravens.
"I love them," said Mike Mitchell. "They are beautiful. I am excited to wear them and all of the guys are. I wear all black on Madden all of the time. I am glad we can do it in real life. It's just solid. Our jerseys our solid. To black it out one time will be nice. It's a night game, so I am sure there will be a lot of black in the stadium. It will be real nice."
The jerseys are all black with gold numbers, and the pants are black as well.
"They look amazing," said Ryan Shazier. "Black and gold goes great, but to wear all black, this is one of my favorite jerseys ever. It's going to make it fun. It's going to be intense. The fans will be pumped. There is a lot on the line. Playing the Ravens. And it's on Christmas.
"Just to be in those uniforms is cool. We are going to give it everything we have. Being in all black will be fun."
The 'color rush' uniforms, designed by Nike, are monochromatic uniforms featured for the most part on Thursday Night Football this season, but with Steelers-Ravens being one of only two Christmas Day games, the decision was made to wear them that day.
"It's awesome," said Marcus Gilbert. "It's a changeup. Something to give our fans something to look forward to. It's the best colors. I love them. All black. It's never been done here before. I am excited to wear black and on Christmas night, it's great."
Rivalry challenge: The Steelers-Ravens Ladies for a Cause challenge has officially kicked off to see who can raise the most for their charity by Christmas Day when the two teams meet at Heinz Field. The Steelers' ladies are giving their donations to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. You can donate now to help Children's Hospital, and help the Steelers defeat the Ravens off the field for a great cause. Donate Here.
What they said:
David DeCastro: "They still have (Terrell) Suggs. They have a great leader in a guy like that who is getting them in the right spots and getting them to play hard. They have a great coach and system, similar to our organization and it shows."
Jesse James: "It's going to be a great atmosphere, as good as it gets. It's for the division, a 4:30 p.m. game, the crowd will be good for Christmas day, couldn't ask for a better environment."