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Steelers vs. Browns Preview: Check Your Head

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 06:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers hands the ball off to Rashard Mendenhall #34 against the Oakland Raiders during the game on December 6, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Jeffrey BoswellAnalyst IDecember 10, 2009

Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.

After a stunning loss to the Raiders in Pittsburgh, the Steelers have lost four in a row and now stand at 6-6, and their hopes for a wild-card berth rest on dangerous footing. With seven teams in the wild-card mix, Pittsburgh will likely need to win out to have even a chance at securing a berth, and the chase begins Thursday in the Dawg Pound.

“If that’s the Steelers idea of ‘unleashing hell,’” says Eric Mangini, “then I’m feeling a lot less uneasy about my eventual time in the afterlife. Besides, if there’s one thing I can do for the fans of Cleveland, it’s to fulfill their most popular request, and that’s for me to ‘go to hell.’”

“No one is quite sure what’s wrong with the Steelers. Oh, there’s plenty of theories. Maybe it’s the lack of a breakaway threat in the running game. Maybe it’s the absence of Troy Polamalu, probably the only player whose impact when he’s not playing exceeds that when he is playing. Here’s a theory no one has posed: maybe the Steelers just aren’t that good.”

“The Polamalu explanation seems most logical. With Polamalu in, the defense is great. When he’s out, they’re mediocre. It’s a defensive case of ‘hair today, gone tomorrow.”

Ben Roethlisberger knows, as the unofficial leader of the Steelers, it’s up to him to rally the troops and turn the season around.

“That’s right,” says Roethlisberger. “Unofficial leader. Just as the Beastie Boys' Check Your Head is the unofficial soundtrack to the second half of our season. ”

“Now, most people would agree that it’s time for a private team meeting,” says Roethlisberger, “and assuming I can get doctor’s clearance, I’m going to request one. I have no doubt that my teammates will listen to me. The question is, will they believe me? We’ve got to turn things around immediately. A loss to the Browns would be devastating. They are the enemy. And, with teammates like these, who needs more enemies?”

“I understand Hines Ward has a hamstring injury that may keep him out of Thursday’s game. Isn’t that an interesting development? I could be the better man and not say a word. Or I could put the ‘critic’ in ‘hypocritical’ and ask for a doctor’s note.”

Pittsburgh wins 19-9.

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