Playoffs on the line in big Bengals-Steelers matchup

PITTSBURGH — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants the league to consider expanding the playoffs. Consider the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals a litmus test.

PITTSBURGH — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants the league to consider expanding the playoffs.

Consider the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals a litmus test.

The official post-season doesn’t start for another two weeks, but the AFC North rivals are getting an early start on Sunday in what amounts to an elimination game. The Steelers (7-7) need two wins to play into January while the Bengals (8-6) need at least one more victory to assure themselves a rare second straight playoff berth.

Cincinnati hasn’t made consecutive post-season appearances since 1981-82, or before all but five players on the current roster were even born.

“We can’t control the past,” wide receiver A.J. Green said.

Maybe, but the Bengals control the present. They’ve won five out of six — the only loss coming on a last-second field goal loss to Dallas — and can still capture the AFC North title with victories over the Steelers and Ravens and a little help.

Heady territory for a franchise that has spent most of the last two decades serving as both a national punching bag for its two main rivals, though the Bengals are downplaying the chance to make a statement against teams considered part of the NFL’s elite.

“It’s not as much about Pittsburgh as it is about us,” left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. “We’ve got an opportunity to go to the playoffs.”

Amazingly, the Steelers do too, despite their second-worst stretch in coach Mike Tomlin’s six years on the job. Pittsburgh has dropped four of five, including baffling losses to Cleveland and San Diego. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been nursing a sprained shoulder and the nagging perception he and offensive co-ordinator Todd Haley won’t be exchanging Christmas cards.

Roethlisberger vented about the direction of the offence after a 27-24 overtime loss to Dallas last weekend, though he backtracked a few days later and Tomlin insisted his franchise cornerstone and his fiery co-ordinator are on the same page.

Maybe, but the latest dust-up offered another chapter in an increasingly long series of melodramas that have evaporated the sense of optimism following a 24-20 victory over the New York Giants on Nov. 4 that appeared to cement the notion the Steelers were back after a slow start.

Just Posted

1,200 runners came out to Woody’s RV Marathon in Red Deer

Red Deer’s Matthew Hope ran in the Woody’s RV World Marathon for… Continue reading

Two men steal 16 year old’s car at gunpoint in Alberta

RCMP are looking for two men who allegedly produced a handgun and… Continue reading

Mother of five who died in hit and run in central Alberta a huge loss to family, police say

Rocky Mountain House RCMP continue to investigate hit and killed case on… Continue reading

‘Rope-a-dope’: Environmentalists say Alberta war room threat won’t distract them

EDMONTON — Environmental groups targeted by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney are shrugging… Continue reading

Speed, alcohol considered factors in deadly Calgary crash: police

CALGARY — The Calgary Police Service says two people are dead after… Continue reading

WATCH: First Red Deer Market of 2019

The event is held every Saturday in the Servus Arena parking lot

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Speaker stuns Morehouse grads, to pay off $40M student debt

A billionaire technology investor stunned the entire graduating class at Morehouse College… Continue reading

Unions increasingly at odds over replacing troubled Phoenix pay system

OTTAWA — The federal team charged with finding a replacement for the… Continue reading

Sisters of Ste-Anne hold unique garage sale before giving up Montreal convent

MONTREAL — The Montreal-area Sisters of Ste-Anne are hosting a unique garage… Continue reading

Canadian pilot Patrick Forseth killed in Honduras plane crash: sister

TRUJILLO, Honduras — A British Columbia woman says her pilot brother was… Continue reading

As states pass restrictive abortion laws, questions surface

ATLANTA — As multiple states pass laws banning many abortions, questions have… Continue reading

Pelosi being honoured with JFK Profile in Courage Award

BOSTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is being honoured with the 2019… Continue reading

India’s marathon national election reaches the finish line

KOLKATA, India — Voting in India’s mammoth national election ended Sunday with… Continue reading

Most Read