Steelers News

Najee Harris Not Sweating Playoff Stakes Of Final Two Games: ‘The Word Pressure Is Overrated’

The Pittsburgh Steelers have two games left to play. They need to win both games in order to reach the postseason. Even that might not be enough to get in, depending on how the rest of the AFC slate breaks over the course of the next eight days. They cannot afford to let one slip against the Cleveland Browns this week, nor the week after against the Baltimore Ravens.

If that’s not pressure, I don’t know what is. But that’s not how rookie running back Najee Harris views it. Perhaps because he brings a broader perspective on life, but he offered a thought-provoking answer when he was asked about the pressure the team is under in the final two weeks.

I don’t think it’s pressure. Why’s it got to be pressure? Why can’t you just go out there and have the mindset to win the game?”, he said “I think that the word ‘pressure’ is kind of overrated. If you just put all that stuff aside and go out and execute and do your assignments, then there should be no pressure”.

Theoretically, of course, everybody on the field should be trying their hardest on every play to win the game. And, theoretically, if you’re trying your hardest at every moment, then there’s nothing you can improve. So as long as you do what you’re supposed to do, there’s no more pressure than normal.

“I feel like when you put pressure, that’s just kind of making the game harder than what it is. Just go out there and execute, and everything should fall into place”, Harris said, though he acknowledged the stakes. “This is a playoff game, but should we act any different? Why should we act different now? Why couldn’t we do this all season? I view that differently. I’m gonna play every game like it’s my last game, like it’s a playoff game”.

I always struggle to buy into things like ‘stepping up’ to the moment, bulletin board material, and the like. Perhaps I’m overly optimistic about how hard the average professional plays on the average play. But I have a hard time believing that games are won and lost based on ‘want-to’ rather than execution, coaching, and talent, as well as the occasional luck of the draw.

Pressure, on the other hand, is self-applied. You decide in your own head how much pressure you feel, and everybody responds to pressure differently. For some, it might make things more difficult. For others, it might simplify things.

People like Najee Harris just don’t buy into it. The game itself is still the same as any others, and the objective is the same as well. The goal never changes: Win every game you play. As long as you’re always trying to win every game, there’s really no reason to do anything differently based only on the ‘pressure’ of the moment, beyond, perhaps, not holding anything back you might have been saving in terms of plays and schematics.

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