Upon Further Review: Steelers Week 16

December, 23, 2013
12/23/13
10:52
AM ET
A review of four hot issues from the Pittsburgh Steelers' 38-31 win against the Green Bay Packers:

[+] EnlargeLe'Veon Bell
Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY SportsPittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell rushes for one of his 26 carries against the Packers in their Week 16 game.
Can you top this?: After rushing for 100 yards Sunday -- his first 100-yard game of the season -- Steelers RBLe'Veon Bell admitted that playing against RB Eddie Lacy's Packers gave Bell a little extra incentive. Both are rookies, and both were selected in the second round. “I wanted to go out there and play at his level or better,” Bell said. It's probably safe to say that Bell and Lacy battled to a draw, if it can be said that a duel transpired between the two at Lambeau Field. Bell outrushed Lacy (124 yards to 85) but Lacy posted a better yards per carry average (5.6 to 4.8). Each showed why his respective team already leans so heavily on him. Lacy displayed nifty vision and footwork on a 14-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Bell, the first Steelers rookie RB to gain 100 yards in a game since Willie Parker in 2004, hurdled a Packers defensive back during one run. He also ripped off a 25-yard run on his first carry after losing a fumble that set up a Lacy touchdown. “He's a good player,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said of Bell, “and he's getting better every week.”

A trip to remember: Ben Roethlisberger savored his 94th career victory in the regular season because of where the Steelers won as much as how they won. The 10th-year veteran had never been to Lambeau Field before Sunday; Roethlisberger didn't make the trip to Green Bay in 2005 because it was too soon after knee surgery for him to fly. "I don't know if I'll get to come back because you don't know about scheduling," Roethlisberger said. "If there was one time to play at Lambeau, I guess this is what you want." Indeed, Roethlisberger and the Steelers got a healthy dose of Lambeau as snow swirled throughout the game and provided enough frosting to cover what Roethlisberger politely called a weathered playing surface. "I called a snap from center and there was clumps of mud on the laces,” Roethlisberger said with a laugh. "At the end of the half, I had to ask them to get a new ball because the laces were filled with mud."

Steelers blissfully unaware: Lawrence Timmons' reaction to what happened outside of Green Bay typified how the Steelers stayed focused on the Packers and not what others around them were doing. When told that pretty much everything had broken right for the Steelers, Timmons said, "Oh, wow, so that puts us in seventh place again? I haven't even checked my cellphone yet." The Steelers are ninth in the AFC, and they still have to jump three teams to make the playoffs. Such a scenario is a lot more plausible than it was two days ago, though it is still hardly favorable. The Steelers have to win Sunday against the visiting Browns and need the Ravens, Dolphins and Chargers all to lose. “It's irrelevant, to be honest,” strong safety Troy Polamalu said of the playoff picture. "Nothing's changed from our standpoint, and our mental approach to the game's got to be a week-to-week thing."

Injury update: Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders may have played his last down for the Steelers. Sanders had an MRI taken on the knee that he hurt while running a pass pattern on the slippery field. He did not play in the second half, and Sanders is hoping for the best regarding the noncontact injury. He will be an unrestricted free agent in March, so he is especially hoping that the Steelers extend their season beyond next Sunday -- and that he is healthy enough to play if the Steelers do what seemed impossible a couple of weeks ago. “We've got a legitimate shot of making the playoffs,” said Sanders, who caught a touchdown pass and set up the Steelers' only other score in the first half with a 47-yard kickoff return. “Knowing that, I want to be all right because I feel like if we get in the tournament, who knows what will happen.” At Tomlin's weekly news conference Monday, the coach will provide an update on Sanders and linebacker Terence Garvin's knee.

Scott Brown

ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter

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