Sometimes specific games stick with a team longer than others. Whether it be a big win or a big loss, there are times when the previous week's contest can easily bleed into the following game. If this happens to a specific team, the ripple effect can have a disastrous impact on the next game.
This is the situation the Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves in as they prepare for the Cleveland Browns after losing to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 16. The team didn't just lose the game, but they lost control of their playoff destiny all in one week as the New York Jets beat the New England Patriots Sunday.
The entire Steelers fan base has either given up on the team after their most recent loss, or been solely focused on the upcoming Buffalo Bills vs. Jets game. There is clearly a scenario where the Steelers can get into the playoffs, and it resides in the Bills beating the Jets at home, but the second part of the scenario has the Steelers beating the Browns. Prior to Week 16 this game would have a 'W' already on the schedule, but after last week nothing is certain.
Could the severity of the loss to the Ravens bleed into the Browns' game and possibly nullify the Steelers' chances of even making the playoffs if the Bills are victorious at home?
"It's not easy," David DeCastro told Jason Mackey of DKonPittsburghSports.com. "But it's something you have to do. You have to suppress that. You have to move on. That's being a professional. You have to do that. We've had bad games before and bounced back. That was one of the tougher ones, but you have to do that."
The loss certainly was one of the more difficult to stomach in recent memory, but the team is dedicated on moving forward from the loss and moving on to Week 17.
"Definitely one we wanted to win and bring back to Pittsburgh; however, we didn't do the things we needed to do when we stepped in the stadium," Jarvis Jones said. "We're in good spirits. We understand that we still have a chance. We need to take care of our business this week.
"However the chips fall Sunday, I'm sure we'll be man enough to take it how it comes."
"It's never easy," Cameron Heyward said. "Especially all that went into it. We're in such a league where you get to prove yourself the next week. We're only guaranteed one game. Just have to have a little bit of magic on our side."
The Steelers will need some magic, and from an unlikely source in Rex Ryan, but that "magic" will mean nothing without the Steelers taking care of business against the lackluster Browns. Anything is possible on any given Sunday, and that includes the team's playoff hopes.