Steelers S Clark's status for Denver uncertain
The Steelers could be without starting free safety Ryan Clark for their wild-card game this weekend in Denver, and his absence would not be injury related.
Clark has sickle cell trait, and he became violently ill after the Steelers played in Denver in 2007. The high altitude caused Clark's blood to sickle, and the deprivation of oxygen to major organs eventually cost Clark his gall bladder and spleen.
Coach Mike Tomlin did not allow Clark to play in Denver in 2009 during a regular-season game. Clark did not play in an exhibition game in Denver last season.
"We're going to meet with the doctors at some point (today) or Tuesday," Tomlin said. "Last time we went (to Denver), we worked him out extensively to see how he responded, and they gathered the data in that regard. So we'll put some heads together, and when I'm talking about heads I'm talking about medical experts, not myself."
Clark said he expects Tomlin to take the decision out of his hands.
"That's fine," Clark said. "It's easier on me that way anyway. No decision has been made, so we've got things to talk about."
> > Josh Cribbs liked everything about the way Cleveland played Sunday against the Steelers — except for the results.
"We beat this team up today. They came with the victory," Cribbs said. "That's all that matters."
Of the Browns' 12 losses this year, half were one-possession games. Two others were close until late — an opening-season 27-17 loss to Cincinnati and a 14-3 loss to the Steelers at Heinz Field last month.
"We are not far," Cribbs said. "We are in every one of these games that we lost. We could've been in the playoffs. The types of games we are playing, the way we battle and fight, it is going to turn into something."
> > Ben Roethlisberger said he did not see how running back Rashard Mendenhall got hurt in the Steelers' 13-9 win against the Browns. The Steelers quarterback made it clear he did not like the cheering he heard after Mendenhall went down with what appears to be a serious knee injury at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
"I'm really disappointed," Roethlisberger said. "I know these fans are passionate about their Browns, but when you hear fans cheer when a guy goes down, that's disappointing. I don't care who it is or if you really hate that team."
> > Tight end Heath Miller moved into fourth place on the Steelers' all-time receptions list. Miller (337) passed Hall of Famer Lynn Swann on Sunday. Roethlisberger went over 4,000 yards passing in a season for the second time of his career. He also accomplished the feat in 2009.
> > The Steelers, as expected, held outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley out of Sunday's game. Woodley hasn't played a full game since injuring his hamstring at the end of October. Tomlin said Woodley could return for the playoffs.
> > Steelers rookie cornerback Cortez Allen left the game in the first half with a shoulder injury and did not return. Cornerback Keenan Lewis hurt his leg. Tomlin said most of the injuries were minor.
> > Guard Chris Kemoeatu started for the Steelers for the first time since early November, playing for the injured Doug Legursky (shoulder) at left guard and ahead of Trai Essex. In addition to Woodley, Legursky and running back Mewelde Moore (knee) outside linebacker Chris Carter (hamstring) didn't play yesterday because of injuries. Healthy scratches for the Steelers included receiver Arnaz Battle, offensive tackle Jamon Meredith and defensive end Al Woods.
> > The Steelers know their opponents for the 2012 season. In addition to AFC North games against Cleveland, Cincinnati and Baltimore, the Steelers will host Denver, Kansas City, New York Jets, Philadelphia and Washington. They will face Dallas, New York Giants, Oakland, San Diego and Tennessee on the road.
> > Browns defensive end Jabaal Sheard out of Pitt had six tackles and a sack, as he ended his rookie season with 55 tackles and a team-high 8.5 sacks while starting every game except for the season-opener.
"I should've made plays and missed a lot of plays, but that's why you come in the offseason and work with coach," Sheard said. "I have to find out a way to finish plays."
> > The Browns finished as one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NFL, but they believe a full offseason with coach Pat Shurmur can rectify that.
"We have a lot of young and talented guys," Cribbs said. "They are making plays. We have a young team, and that offseason is very important for their growth. They were thrown in the fire early and not prepared properly."
> > Tight end Evan Moore had a chance to haul in a Hail Mary pass that would have given the Browns the win on the game's final play.
"It was a jump ball," Moore said. "Most of the time those things happen in the front of the end zone, so you try to get behind, but it happened toward the back of the end zone, so our configuration was kind of weird."
> > Receivers Jordan Norwood and Rod Windsor, quarterback Colt McCoy, defensive back James Dockery, offensive linemen Steve Vallos and Tony Pashos, and defensive lineman Kiante Tripp were inactive for the Browns.
Steelers vs. Browns January 1, 2012
The Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Cleveland Browns, 13-9, Sunday, January 1, 2012.