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Steelers Know This Season is Still Alive

The mindset hasn't changed, but it's becoming more realistic for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers are a half-game back from first place in the AFC North, and whether this team still has their problems or not, there's a belief this season isn't over. 

Leaving the weekend, the Steelers are 7-6-1, with the leading AFC team - their Week 16 opponents the Kansas City Chiefs - sitting at 10-4. 

So, moving forward, the Steelers' mindset is that the playoffs start... last week.

"When you've got teams like this and environments like this this time of season, every game is like a playoff," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "Had the feel of a playoff game -- physically, emotionally, the fans, everything -- so I think we still have a pulse in this thing. So we'll see where it goes from here."

Knowing their backs are against the wall and preparing as if they are is a different mindset, though. Pittsburgh has known they can't miss a step, but prior to their win over the Tennessee Titans, it wasn't relaying to the field. 

This week, it did, and it opened the door to continue that effort.

"Just run down the list, every game here on out is a playoff game," defensive tackle Cameron Heyward said. "Backs against the wall. We put ourselves in this situation. But we've got to be ready for it. It's not going to be perfect football but it's going to be playoff football. And everything's going to count a little different."

And whether the rest of us are thinking about the future, the Steelers are focused on now - and how they can keep this season alive week-by-week.

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"We won this one. We're getting singularly focused for the next one," head coach Mike Tomlin said. "We're not diagnosing big pictures. No need to. We take care of business in stadium, we don't need to look around. We have three AFC games left, two of which are AFC North games, so all we have to do is focus on the stadiums that we're in. That's the message."

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