PITTSBURGH – Playing a division rival in the playoffs should mean a bulletin board full of motivational fodder. But all that's tacked up on the Pittsburgh Steelers' board is a picture of Ben Roethlisberger and his junior-high prom date.
The caption reads: "Ben, Thanks for the dance, but I'm still a Browns fan. P.S. Call me."
It's not exactly motivational, but there is some red-hot material bubbling beneath the surface, courtesy of T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
In an NFL Films video clip that's making its way around the internet, Houshmandzadeh is asking fans at Heinz Field for a Terrible Towel during the final minute of the Cincinnati Bengals' 38-31 win. The video then jumps to Houshmandzadeh leaving the field and, upon entering the tunnel, being given a Terrible Towel. Houshmandzadeh grabs the towel, sits down and begins buffing his cleats with the towel while making derogatory comments about the Steelers.
Beautiful stuff, deserving of its own bulletin board, but alas, there's nothing in the Steelers' locker room.
"I don't see the guys getting too excited about something like that," said Mike Logan. "Now, Joey might, but that's about it."
Joey Porter hasn't seen the video but he's heard about it.
"My wife told me about it," Porter said. "I guess he wants to make us mad. Well, we're mad. He wants to talk trash on us, he wants to wash his cleats with a Terrible Towel, fine. You want to make us mad, it worked. We're mad. Now what?"
While other players laughed it off, Porter, the Steelers' Pro Bowl outside linebacker, seethed.
"He thought it'd be alright to say those kinds of things after the second game with us. He thought he wouldn't have to see us again. He thought wrong," Porter said. "They've been doing a lot of things lately: Making dance videos, washing their shoes with Terrible Towels, talking a lot of trash. I don't know how they have time for football with everything they've got going on. We'll see on Sunday, I guess, what it's all about."
LONG, WINDING ROAD
If the Steelers win Sunday's 4:30 p.m. playoff game in Cincinnati, they'll play the Indianapolis Colts the following Sunday, Jan. 15, at 1 p.m. in Indianapolis.
The semifinal games will be played Sunday, Jan. 22, and the Super Bowl will be played Sunday, Feb. 5 in Detroit.
If the Steelers are to play in the Super Bowl, they'll have to win three games on the road. It's only been done once in NFL history, and the New England Patriots lost to the Chicago Bears, 46-10, after the 1985 season.
But the Steelers are 13-3 on the road the last two seasons and don't seem to mind the difficult path.
"It's fun to win on the road because it's harder; everything's against you on the road," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "It's always fun to win in front of your home fans because you can celebrate with them and then have fun with them, but winning on the road is tough because you can't hear and you're limited, so it's fun to win on the road."
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis was the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens when they won the Super Bowl as a wild-card playoff entrant. He was asked how the Ravens went about winning one home game and two road games before beating the New York Giants in the Super Bowl following the 2000 season.
"I think at some point it comes down to your preparation and how you go out and play and execute that particular Sunday," Lewis said. "If you do that, it doesn't matter much where you are playing. Sometimes, because you are kind of sequestered amongst yourselves a little bit, it may be good. But I think each and every game depends on the players and how they play that day."
Reserve defensive end Travis Kirschke was the only player to miss the Steelers' Wednesday practice. Kirschke is questionable with a back injury.
Missing at least a portion of the Bengals' practice Wednesday were C Eric Ghiaciuc (back/probable), WR Chris Henry (back/probable), LT Levi Jones (shoulder/probable), FB Nick Luchey (knee/probable), CB Deltha O'Neal (knee/probable) and DT Bryan Robinson (foot/probable).