The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


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.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • 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

  • racin 0416 Jennerstown Speedway gearing for May open

    Jennerstown Speedway released a very ambitious schedule on its website and continues to prepare for its 2014 reopening.
    The track is set to hold a practice day for drivers as well as an open house and media day on April 26.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • Pirates 0416 Dominant Cueto drops Pirates in matinee

    That playoff loss in Pittsburgh last year? Johnny Cueto never thought about it much. So getting a chance to shut out the Pirates in a rematch wasn’t any more special.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0416 Penguins rally to wear out Jackets

    Brandon Sutter scored on a wrist shot from the left circle 8:18 into the third period, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins rally for a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Wednesday night.
    Beau Bennett and Matt Niskanen scored power-play goals 45 seconds apart in the second period, erasing Pittsburgh’s two-goal deficit.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shelley and McElligot Series serves as reunion for former Chiefs personnel

    Not so long ago, Bob McElligott, like most Western Pennsylvania hockey fans, would savor a long Pittsburgh Penguins playoff run.
    The Somerset native followed the Pens’ Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1991 and 1992.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Malkin nearing return

    The Columbus Blue Jackets are the closest NHL team to the Pittsburgh Penguins, at least geographically. The two franchises are separated by 185 miles of highway.

    April 15, 2014


Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos

Photo Slideshow

House Ads