NFL Statement

Due to public safety concerns in light of the forecasted storm this weekend in the Kansas City area, Sunday’s Steelers-Chiefs Divisional Playoff game on NBC has been moved to 8:20 p.m. ET.  Moving the game from the original 1:05 p.m. ET start time will provide local authorities more time to clear roads in the area as the weather is expected to improve throughout Sunday. The decision to make this time change was made in consultation with state and local officials as well as the Chiefs and the Steelers.

The Steelers are hoping for some deja vu. A little more than 3 months ago, they rolled over the Chiefs. That was October 2nd–a Sunday night game. Le’Veon Bell returned from his suspension and rushed for 144 yards. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 300 yards. The Steelers improved to 3-1 with a 43-14 win, but Ben told us today that game means absolutely nothing, “yeah you gotta throw that out because it’s the playoffs…everyone wants to win this game so there’s no, to me there’s no real revenge factor, just it’s the playoffs, so everyone wants to get it done…we’ll look at, obviously we’ll look at the tape but that was early in the season and we gotta focus on this game this time around.”

The Steelers are looking ahead to the Chiefs, but head coach Mike Tomlin spent part of his Monday news conference looking back at a late decision he made in Sunday’s win over Miami. With the game out of reach, Ben Roethlisberger was still on the field. Tomlin says the intent was to run the ball until a 3rd-down pass. On that play, Roethlisberger was intercepted, and Cameron Wake rolled on his ankle. The Steelers tell us the injury does not appear to be serious, and the coach said the decision was on him, “I take responsibility for throwing it on third down. I got a little over-aggressive there, and it goes beyond taking responsibility. I made the call, so don’t ask Todd (Haley) about it. I made the call, and I take responsibility for that.”

Mike Tomlin is talking for the first time about the Sunday night arrest of his OLBs coach, Joey Porter. As the Steelers prepare for the Chiefs, Porter remains on leave from the Steelers. Coach Tomlin began his Monday news conference by addressing the Porter issue, “In this league we’re all held to a standard of decorum..players, coaches front office people, executives, even more so and rightfully so…obviously we’re treating this with the attention it deserves…We’re not overly concerned with it being a distraction for us.”

For the Steelers, The Big Three will play a postseason game together for the first time.
Ben, Bell and Brown are all healthy and will lead the Steelers against the Dolphins on Sunday. Le’Veon Bell talked about whether he’d have to calm himself down before his first career playoff game, “No I know exactly how hyped I’m gonna be, and I think I deserve it. This is gonna be my first playoff game…my fourth year in the league, so I’m obviously going to be excited and anxious. I’m gonna be pumped and I need that. I need to keep my energy up.”

The Miami Dolphins beat the Steelers earlier this season, and Mike Tomlin says you can’t deny what’s on video. Well, what’s on video from the October 16th loss is Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi running wild with 25 carries for 204 yards rushing and two touchdowns. It was a disaster, especially for a team that takes great pride is shutting down the run. Ajayi’s performance in week six is in the front of the coach’s mind as he prepares for Sunday, “we’re not gonna pretend like the 200-yard game was a lightning strike. No it was very real. I don’t think it’s appropriate to take that approach. He ran for 200 yards twice against the Buffalo Bills this year. So there’s tangible evidence that we need to respect preparation process. We need to have an understanding that what happened the last time when we played these guys was by no means a lightning strike. We got a big-time work week ahead of us in terms of minimizing the impact of their quality of running game and their feature runner”

Postseason is officially underway for the Steelers. Their week of preparation for the Miami Dolphins has begun, and the news is good for DE Stephon Tuitt. He missed last week’s game against the Ravens and yesterday’s game against the Browns because of a knee injury. The Steelers know they have to stop the run, and Tuitt says he’ll be there to help. Tuitt says he’s going to play Sunday, “the training staff that they have here did an exceptional job…they did an exceptional job of taking care, making sure I was able to get back in the short amount of time that I did, and I’m stronger than ever, and I will continue to get better through this week as well, and be looking forward to playing in a wild card game Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.”

The Steelers have nothing to gain in Sunday’s game with the Browns. With that in mind, Maurkice Pouncey, Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are among those likely to watch from the sidelines. That means DeAngelo Williams can get some much-needed reps before the playoffs begin. Williams hasn’t played in a game since early November, and is looking forward to getting back at it, “this opportunity is a big opportunity for me since I haven’t played since the injury and the surgery, so it’ll be fun. It’s gonna be fun.”

Tough news again on the injury front for the Penguins. Matt Murray is now considered week-to-week after suffering a lower-body injury late in the 2nd period last night. The injury wasn’t apparent, but will be enough to keep Murray out of action for a while. Pens head coach Mike Sullivan says this is why it’s so important to have two strong goalies, “we believe we’ve got two number-one goaltenders. We’ve tried to manage the games in such a way that we keep them both in it. Certainly in times like this, we’re fortunate that we have two guys that are as capable as these two guys are.” Murray will be reevaluated after next week’s “bye week” for the Penguins.

The great debate. Should the Steelers start or sit their star players in a game that doesn’t matter? Mike Tomlin wouldn’t say who will be playing, but he did say that if anyone is wearing a uniform, they’ll be seeing action, “our approach is going to be, if you’re dressed it’s business as usual, and I think that’s the appropriate approach to take from a play standpoint, from a preparation-to-play standpoint, and from a planning standpoint. As a staff, we’re not going to live in our fears. We’re not going to fear the what-ifs.”