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Old 12-20-2008, 09:42 AM   #1
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Default Steelers' togetherness paying dividends

Steelers' togetherness paying dividends
Saturday, December 20, 2008

They play for 60 minutes because they're playing for one another.

That's the characteristic that defines the 2008 Steelers, much more than the presence of a franchise quarterback, a No. 1-ranked defense or the 11-3 record they'll take to the field Sunday in Tennessee.

"Togetherness," linebacker James Farrior said. "I believe that's what it is. If we don't play together, if we don't play as a team, we're not going to win these games.

"We all stick together no matter what's going on throughout the game. We all have confidence in each other."

As cliched as it may sound, these Steelers believe that togetherness is what separates them.

"I think this team has been doing a great job all year of not giving up on each other," wide receiver Nate Washington said. "Everybody talks about our level of play, but no one really speaks on our mentality around this locker room.

"We never give up on each other. We keep fighting. That's the best thing we've been doing all year."

The second-best thing would be pulling games out late.

Five times on the way to that 11-3 record, the Steelers have decided games inside the two-minute warning or in overtime.

The most recent example of the Steelers' remarkable ability to muster precisely what's required at the exact moment it's necessary occurred this past Sunday in Baltimore.

After they'd gone 92 yards into the teeth of one of the NFL's most vicious defenses and scored the touchdown that won the AFC North Division, coach Mike Tomlin referenced his team's refusal to "let go of the rope," despite ample opportunities to submit to such a temptation.

Safety Ryan Clark said conceding amid such circumstances simply isn't an option for this team.

"You let go of the rope, one of your homeboys falls," Clark said. "We don't believe in that.

"We're going to ride all day together."

That in itself doesn't win division championships.

But when that level of resolve is coupled with more tangible components, such as a franchise quarterback and a No. 1 defense, anything is possible.

A win tomorrow over the Titans would secure the best record in the AFC and move the Steelers to within a win over Cleveland on Dec. 28 of clinching home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

The nature of almost half of their wins suggests they remain vulnerable. If not for two or three of those last-minute rallies, these Steelers would be scrambling for a wild card rather than competing for the No. 1 seed in the conference.

But with each passing week, they continue fostering a belief the likes of which Farrior hasn't experienced since joining the Steelers in 2002. That'll make them as dangerous a team as any entering the playoffs.

"This is the best team as far as togetherness," Farrior said. "We have a strong bond we've created throughout the season. It's getting stronger every game."

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Old 12-20-2008, 03:21 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' togetherness paying dividends

No doubt this team is extremely close. Next dividend to be paid to this team is the #1 playoff seed.
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