Logan, Steelers brace for 'mini-Super Bowl'

<b>PITTSBURGH - </b> Mike Logan understands the pain. He felt it the instant fullback Fred Beasley beat him for a 28-yard touchdown pass Monday night in the Steelers' latest loss. <br><br> It put them at 3-7 and Logan, like you, is torqued.

He grew up around here. Played for McKeesport High and West Virginia University. Used free agency to come back home to play for his beloved Steelers. And for what? Last place?

"This game is so big for both of us," Logan said of Sunday's last stand at Cleveland. "You think about this division and we've ruled this division. And this battle with the Browns, they came up here and they kicked our butts at home. Me being a Pittsburgh guy, knowing about this, can you imagine how I was feeling that day? So this game means so much. It's going to be somewhat of a mini-Super Bowl. That's the way you've got to look at it and that's the feeling about it right now. Look at our record. Our backs are against the wall. It's not just talk. It's the reality of it."

The words were hot, but the attitude behind those words was hotter. Logan's eyes searched his questioner's as if to ask: Are you with us or against' us?

"I can't even imagine the feeling of not being able to play in January," he said. "My stomach's sick already. I'm accustomed to being there. It's got to happen."

Logan isn't just spouting off clichés. He knows his team's position, he knows the mistakes he's made to help put them there, and he knows his unit, the secondary, will be under the gun in his team's final chance to pull a season back from the abyss.

Of course, Logan, the Steelers' strong safety, knows the Browns are going to spread the Steelers out and pass, pass, pass. But what makes him think the secondary will do a better job against the Browns' passing attack? On Sunday night, Oct. 5, they felt they were prepared for it, but lost to the Browns at Heinz Field, 33-13.

Why will this game be any different?

"The situation is different," Logan said. "This team's mindset is different. It might not have been real evident on Monday night, but today it is. And I think it's going to push us over."

Why is he convinced of that?

"I'm convinced because of the talks I've had with my teammates, the looks in these guys' eyes right now, the feeling that we've got enriched in us right now, it makes me convinced," he said. "Seriously, after the game Monday, it was real difficult and I had to go home and really look at myself in the mirror and say 'This is not us.' It's not even comfortable being in this situation and it's so uncharacteristic of us as a team and us as individuals."

"Now, we're definitely out of time. The weeks leading up to this we kept telling ourselves we were still in this thing, still had an opportunity, could still win this division. Now, it's gut-wrench time and every game, every battle is so significant. That's the way it is. I mean, there's no other way to look at it now. No other way."

Logan stood tall in the locker room, eyes searing, back straight, posture proud but defiant. He's different from anyone else in the locker room because he is both fan and player. The fan in him isn't above criticizing the player in him, either.

"These last few games, I haven't felt good about my performance," he said. "People say, 'Well you were active in the game.' I was active, but I just did some things that weren't me. I don't know if it was from pressing too much. I just need to go out and play football. Everybody on this team needs to go out and play football. When we play football together, we're a pretty good team and I don't think anybody in the league would doubt that as evidenced by the last couple of years. But everybody's out here, knowing we have a little bit of adversity, and everybody's trying to do a little bit more."

"I think it's execution. Like today, we looked around the locker room for guys who've been on this team the last two, three years. There are a lot of guys. The talent is still there. But when you look at tape and see me chasing a fullback on a flat and up, and taking the wrong angle, that's execution. That's a perfect example. That's me trying to force a play instead of taking the proper angle."

"We're in that situation where we think we've got to make perfect plays to get this thing rolling. We just have to shake it and go play now. There's nothing else to do. We came in here today looking around like 'It's got to happen now' because the reality of it is setting in. We don't have no more time to say 'Better luck next week.' If we don't win this week, it's over. And I don't think anyone on this team wants to let it go down that way."


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