Steelers notebook: Clark says 2014 not an issue
By Alan Robinson
Published: Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Now it's down to two games, and multiple Steelers players realize they're playing their final games for the franchise.
But safety Ryan Clark, who could be one of those players, said 2014 employment isn't an issue during games.
“When you're out there, you can't really think about those things,” Clark said. “You're trying to figure out your coverage, or you're trying to figure out where to go with the ball offensively. You're not thinking about how many games you've got left. During the week, you think about those things and try to take in the (last) moments with the guys. Right now, we're trying to win games and show people that the guys on this team, and the coaches, they still want to play, they have a lot of fight left in them.”
• Some tickets for the Bengals game Sunday sold on the secondary market for as little as $5, according to SeatGeek. The crowd of 45,873 was by far the smallest for a Steelers home game since Heinz Field opened in 2001. The previous low in the 65,500-seat stadium was 51,831 for the season-ending game against the Browns in 2012. The average resale price Sunday was $49, according to SeatGeek, or less than half of the $133 for the Browns game last year. Even the two preseason games in August had higher ticket demand than the Bengals game did. Seats for the Browns game Dec. 29 are selling for $55, an unusually low price for a Steelers game given that it's still 12 days away. Two weeks ago, Bengals tickets were selling for $92.
• Wide receiver Antonio Brown's five catches Sunday gave him 95 for the season, 17 short of Hines Ward's team record of 112 in 2002.
Brown is 92 yards away from breaking Yancey Thigpen's single-season club record of 1,398 yards receiving in 1997. “It would definitely be great if I could reach that achievement,” Brown said. “But my focus is on how I can be productive, how can I come to the stadium and help my team win? If I help us win, I think I'll have a good opportunity to hit those marks.” Brown has two punt return touchdowns, both against Cincinnati. Antwaan Randle El owns the club record for most in a single season with four.
• With former Steelers linebacker James Harrison out with a concussion for most of the game, the Bengals downsized on defense, according to running back Le'Veon Bell. “Once he went down, they had a defensive back in there, so that made it easier to run the ball,” Bell said. “It was a bigger guy coming out and a smaller guy coming in. But they adjusted in the second half and had a bigger guy in there.”
• Troy Polamalu has been lining up frequently as an inside linebacker assigned to run coverage, but he played more than twice as many snaps in pass coverage, according to Pro Football Focus. Polamalu was easily the highest-rated player on defense. Right guard David DeCastro and right tackle Marcus Gilbert were the highest-rated players on offense.
• With LaMarr Woodley limited to two snaps because of a calf injury, rookie outside linebacker Jarvis Jones played 69 snaps, his third most of the season. He didn't have a sack, but he had two tackles and a quarterback hurry. “I'm figuring out the things I need to work on and the things I need to hone in on,” Jones said. “It motivates me for the offseason to come back and be a better all-around player.”
• Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 15-6 against the Bengals, including the playoffs. He was sacked only once Sunday and has gone down five times in five games after being sacked at least five times in four of the first eight games. Roethlisberger needs 414 passing yards to break his own single-season record.
• After giving up 11 plays of 50 yards or longer in their first 13 games, the Steelers didn't allow a play longer than 19 yards against Cincinnati. The longest run was 9 yards.
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