The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Sports

December 21, 2013

Postseason on line for Steelers, Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Tradition-rich franchises. Big-name quarterbacks. Super Bowl rematch.

Doesn’t get much more interesting in the NFL than the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers in December at frigid Lambeau Field.

Throw in the Packers’ late push for the playoffs, and this matchup has the makings of must-see viewing this afternoon.

“Man, if you asked me a couple weeks ago if we’d be in this spot, I would have told you, ‘I don’t think so,’ ” Packers guard T.J. Lang said. “But hey, this is what football is about. Comes down to the last couple games, and we’ve put ourselves in position to have a chance.”

Two straight come-from-behind victories have helped ease the sting of playing without quarterback Aaron Rodgers (broken left collarbone). The Packers (7-6-1) are back in control of their playoff destiny – wins today over the Steelers and next week over the Bears get them the NFC North title.

The Steelers (6-8) remain on the fringes of the playoff race and need a lot of help.

Miami is one of three teams ahead of them in the chase for the second AFC wild card. The Dolphins play the Bills early today, so it’s possible the Steelers may officially be out of the postseason picture by the time they kick off in Green Bay later in the day.

“I don’t know what scenario it takes for us to get in,” tight end Heath Miller said. “I just know we’re going to put in all the effort we can into winning the game this weekend.”

Five things to watch ahead of the teams’ first meeting since the Packers beat the Steelers 31-25 in the Super Bowl in 2011:

QB QUESTION: Backup Matt Flynn was preparing to make his fourth straight start in place of the injured Rodgers. The 2011 NFL MVP has been  inching closer to coming back, but needed medical clearance.

After an 0-4-1 stretch without Rodgers, the Packers have won two straight with Flynn. He’s growing more comfortable each week and helping Green Bay play better late in games, which had been a season-long problem.

Since Week 12, Flynn has a 128.3 passer rating in fourth quarters, completing 28 of 39 throws for 301 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

ROOKIE RBs: Packers running back Eddie Lacy leads the league in rushing since Oct. 1 with 977 yards. He could have been taking those handoffs from Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Pittsburgh considered taking the Alabama rookie in the draft, but instead went with Michigan State product Le’Veon Bell because of his versatility.

Bell has 646 yards on 198 carries on the season, one carry short of the team rookie record. With 43 catches, he’s nine receptions short of the team mark for most catches for a running back in a season.

“There’s no right or wrong, globally speaking,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “It’s about what’s right for you and Le’Veon Bell was right for us.”

RIDING HIGH: The Packers set a franchise record by rebounding from a 23-point halftime deficit last week to beat Dallas, an emotional high in the team’s injury-filled, roller coaster of a season.

Coach Mike McCarthy planned to address his team about guarding against a letdown, though it’s hard to imagine that might happen with the playoffs within sight.

“I’m sure we’re not going to have any problems focusing on what we still have ahead of us,” Lacy said.

SUPER REMATCH: The Packers and the Steelers represent two of the league’s model franchises, with stable ownerships and loyal, national fan bases. Together, they’ve combined for 19 world championships, including the NFL-best 13 for the Packers. Pittsburgh’s six titles are the most by any AFC team.

But Super Bowl losses still sting.

“When you’re that close and you come up short, that’s something you never forget,” Miller said.

TRIPLE SIXES: Two weeks, two straight ominous-sounding stat lines for Packers tight end Andrew Quarless: six catches, 66 yards.

“Everybody had jokes about it, but it’s something I prayed on, and I told ‘em next time, hopefully I get six for 100,” Quarless said.

Perhaps more importantly for the Packers’ offense is that Quarless has caught touchdowns in two straight games. Tight end is a factor for the first time since Jermichael Finley (neck) got hurt in Week 7.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local Sports
  • Penguins 0419 Blue Jackets outlast Pens in double-OT

    Matt Calvert banged home a rebound 1:10 into the second overtime and the Columbus Blue Jackets earned the first playoff victory in franchise history with a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.
    Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury stuffed the initial shot by Cam Atkinson but Calvert stood all alone at the left post and wristed a shot into the open net to even the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at one game each.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0419 Brewers rally to clip Pirates

    Ryan Braun hit two homers, including a two-run shot with two outs in the ninth inning that sent the Milwaukee Brewers over the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 Saturday night.
    Braun has five home runs this season after being suspended for the last 65 games of 2013 following Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Biogenesis drug scandal.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Area runners gearing for Boston Marathon

    The time was 12:15 p.m. It was Monday April 19, 1897.  Tom Burke had drawn a line across the dirt road with his foot. Eighteen men gathered near Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland, Massachusetts.

    April 19, 2014

  • SRU vs UPJ baseball0418 1 UPJ takes one, drops second

    John Fees’ spring baseball season accurately mirrors that of his Pitt-Johnstown team.
    Fees started slow, losing his first four decisions, but has rebounded nicely in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Pirates 0418 Brewers ward off late Pirates rally bid

    Kyle Lohse pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Carlos Gomez homered and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 Friday night.
    Lohse (3-1) improved to 11-2 in his career against the Pirates, allowing one earned run in a win against them for the second time in six days.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drama lacking sans Tiger

    If professional golf saw its future at Augusta National last weekend, the sight had to be worse than choking on a 5-foot putt.
    The course was there in all its splendor.

    April 18, 2014

  • Penguins 0418 Penguins are wary of spunky Blue Jackets

    Sidney Crosby is used to the attention. It comes with the territory when you’re the best hockey player in the world.
    Still, the Pittsburgh Penguins star knows the spotlight becomes more acute in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0417 Pirates power past Brewers

    Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.
    Harrison’s two-run drive down the left field line off Rob Wooten (0-1) was the second of his career as a pinch hitter.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0417 Jackets preparing for Game 2

    The Columbus Blue Jackets don’t feel they’re doomed after blowing a two-goal lead in a Game 1 loss of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
    “It’s not about missed chances, or feeling sorry about it,” goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky said at Thursday’s optional workout, 13 hours after falling 4-3 in Pittsburgh.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local Sports Briefs

    April 17, 2014

AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Poll

Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide