Big Games, Then There's This One

Mike Prisuta points out that the ramifications of the Steelers' game Sunday night are about as close to Armageddon as an NFL team can get.

They all admit it's a big one.

The question is how big?

If the Steelers' Sunday Night Showdown in Cincinnati was a movie about an impending missile attack on America, if Mike Tomlin was playing the part of a general at NORAD assessing the potential ramifications of the situation and the Bengals game suddenly blipped across his radar screen, Tomlin's inclination would be to yell "Go to DEFCON ...

DEFCON what?

DEFCON 5 means all is relatively well.

DEFCON 1 means Armageddon is at hand.

So at 2-3, Sunday night is DEFCON what for the Steelers?

"That's probably DEFCON 1-and-a-half," Brett Keisel offered.

Reminded that in the DEFCON rankings a higher designation indicates much less of a threat, Keisel altered his estimation.

"Then we're at DEFCON 2, probably," Keisel continued. "We're not panicked. Some people in here might say we are. I would say our backs are against the wall and we've gotta start winning some games, especially on the road.

"This will be a big test for us. It'll be interesting to see how we respond knowing the level of importance this game has in our season. I want to see us go out and play the way we're used to playing around here, playing for 60 minutes. Playing as well as we did in the first half in the second half.

"That's where we've struggled a little bit this year and we want to nip that in the rear."

Failure to do so might signify that the time is right for the Steelers to kiss their rears good-bye as far as the postseason is concerned. Ike Taylor wasn't willing to go that far, but he went almost that far.

"Very critical, very critical," Taylor said of Sunday night. "This is a critical game. This is an AFC divisional game. That's as critical as it gets."

Ben Roethlisberger was asked a time or two about Sunday's significance, as well.

"Every question," Roethlisberger said, recapping his traditional Wednesday media session.

"I don't like saying ‘make or break,'" Roethlisberger continued. "To me ‘make or break' is the playoffs when you have one game to win.

"Is this important to us? Absolutely."

The ramifications go beyond the simple mathematics.

At 2-4, the Steelers would be in a bad place in the standings.

But falling to 2-4 via the loss of a fourth consecutive road game, via the loss of a fourth conference game, via the loss of their first AFC North game would be potentially devastating.

If the Steelers lose this one despite finally having James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley playing together for an entire game for the first time, if they lose despite the aforementioned advanced acknowledgement by one and all that this is a game they absolutely, positively have to have, there may be no coming back.

"It would stink, yeah, absolutely, it would be terrible," Roethlisberger said. "But it's still not the end of the world.

"Let's just hope it doesn't come to that and we don't have to find out."

And let's go to DEFCON 2, just in case.


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