Can Pittsburgh finish strong?

December, 16, 2009
12/16/09
12:00
PM ET
The Pittsburgh Steelers (6-7) beat the No. 3, No. 4 and No. 10 teams in the latest ESPN.com Power Rankings by double-digit margins this season.

But the defending champions also lost to teams currently ranked No. 27, No. 28 and No. 29.

So which Pittsburgh team shows up Sunday against the Green Bay Packers (9-4)?

At this point, it’s anyone's guess.

Will the Steelers show the fire and efficiency that it took to beat the Minnesota Vikings (11-2) and San Diego Chargers (10-3)? Or will the same Pittsburgh from last Thursday's loss to the Cleveland Browns (2-11) show up again Sunday at Heinz Field?

Five consecutive losses have taken the Steelers from shocked to angry and frustrated to mentally drained. For the stretch run, Pittsburgh is working towards getting back to the form that helped the team get off to a 6-2 start.

"It cannot rule us," Mike Tomlin said of past losses during his weekly news conference. "We got to focus singularly on the opportunity which is in front of us. Excuses and explanations for what has happened, particularly recently, is really kind of irrelevant."

We have seen the best of the Steelers and the worst of the Steelers all in one season.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing from Pittsburgh's perspective is that the team has been in every game. The Steelers' largest margin of defeat was seven points last week to the Browns.

In 2008, Pittsburgh won the close games on their way to a Super Bowl. This year, close losses have made the Steelers a below-.500 football team.

"There’s a fine line between winning and losing," Tomlin said. "The line is not so fine when you're playing dominant, that's why it's our goal. But when we're not playing dominant, we have to find a way to make significant plays at correct moments."

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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