The Pittsburgh Steelers are treating the season finale in Cleveland as a trip to the dry cleaners. Might as well feel fresh in case the playoffs come calling, especially after that mud-rolling performance in Baltimore.
"Getting that stench of last week's performance off us," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said during Tuesday's news conference about his team's goals after a curious 20-17 loss to the Ravens that gives the New York Jets control over the final AFC wild-card spot. "We'll be measured in a big way in how we do that."
The Steelers' once-hot passing game unraveled with 215 yards and two turnovers in the loss, which dropped Pittsburgh to 9-6, one game behind the 10-5 Jets, who head to Buffalo in Week 17. The Steelers, however, still own the tiebreaker over New York if they both finish at 10-6.
Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams was also upset with the team's loss, taking to Twitter claiming he doesn't deserve to be a nominee for a weekly league-wide honor:
I appreciate the nominee FedEx but I don't deserve an award for a game we inexplicably lost! https://t.co/sUDgCF4zes pic.twitter.com/3ZbDCnCaf2— DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) December 29, 2015
Tomlin, who points out the Steelers are 0-5 on the year when losing the turnover battle, as they did Sunday, said he considers Bills coach Rex Ryan a friend. He's not abusing friend privileges, though.
"I won't be calling him or anything [to motivate him]," Tomlin said.
Tomlin also said he expects Jets-Bills highlights or score updates to appear on the video screen at Cleveland's FirstEnergy Stadium "if the Jets are winning."
The Steelers hope to ignore those updates in exchange for increased defensive pressure on the quarterback, which Baltimore's Ryan Mallett barely saw Sunday.
"There's a scenario that hasn't transpired in order to get in the dance. But the other part of that scenario is us winning," Tomlin said. "I'm not looking for comfort. I'm just trying to meet the challenges of this week. You set yourself up for failure if you view it any other way."
Before Sunday's loss, the Steelers scored at least 30 points in six straight games, so they're still considered a dangerous playoff team -- if they get in.
The receiving trio of Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton had averaged 295 receiving yards per game in the five weeks before Sunday's loss, in which they managed 108.
"We're a group that believes in what we're capable of," Tomlin said. "Obviously we have to deliver the goods. We didn't do that a week ago."