A little bit of this, and a little bit of that as the Steelers prepare to take on the New York Giants.
All or nothing: It's the time of year when holiday songs ring through everyone's head, and for the Steelers, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," might be right at the forefront.
And, honestly, it has nothing to do with the holidays, but the fact that December football is in full effect, and it truly does take on a different meaning.
"It's time to fight for a playoff spot," said Le'Veon Bell. "You have to pick your game up. It's the end of the season. It's all or nothing right now."
The Steelers have five games remaining, starting on Sunday against the an 8-3 Giants team that is on a six-game winning streak. Players know they have to bring their best to the field.
"It's for all of the marbles," said Marcus Gilbert. "We are trying to fight for a playoff position. Whoever is hot in December football goes into the playoffs hot. This is a significant time for us. We have been peaking at the right time. It's time for us to keep our foot on the pedal."
The battle for the AFC North right now has the Steelers in second behind the Baltimore Ravens. Both teams have identical 6-5 records, but the Ravens defeated the Steelers in Baltimore.
"December is a deciding factor," said William Gay. "Everybody is making a push to position themselves. Like Coach (Mike) Tomlin told us, if you love football, you will love this moment. It's when everything counts. Everybody takes their level of football up. Things that worked in September and October don't work now, so you have to find a way to win."
Second to none: The Giants secondary is going to provide a test for Ben Roethlisberger and the offense, in particular safety Landon Collins, who has earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors twice this year, and cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
"Landon is maybe the defensive player of the year," said Ben Roethlisberger. "The way he is playing football right now is awesome. Interceptions, sacks, tackles, PBUs, all those things. He is a guy that is a force to be reckoned with. That is a compliment to him and his work and the way he makes things happen in that secondary. Jenkins is a guy they brought over from St. Louis and expected big things and he is doing big things. We anticipate him to travel with Antonio (Brown). He is locking guys down. As a secondary they are playing really well."
They said it:
Ryan Shazier on putting pressure on Eli Manning:
"It's really important to get pressure on him, get him off his spot. He has a lot of dominant receivers out there, and if we just get him off his spot, he can't put the ball exactly where he wants to."
Stephon Tuitt on defending Giants receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz:
Javon Hargrave on the defensive line staying strong without Cameron Heyward:
"We are not breaking. We are just getting better and starting to detail our work more and you can see the improvement."
Sean Davis on comparing Odell Beckham Jr. to Antonio Brown:
"I haven't gone against him yet. I just see what he does on film. He is a special dude. I don't know what he does in practice, but gong against Antonio Brown every day and seeing what he does. I haven't been anywhere else, but I just feel that he is one of a kind."