The Pittsburgh Steelers’ postseason path is a slim one. If you’re into math, they have roughly a 3% chance of advancing, no longer in control of their destiny and needing help around the league. Regardless of what happens, Najee Harris knows he has a job to do and no matter what, the team’s mission will remain the same the next two games.
“We got two games left, we’re trying to win these next games,” Harris said via Steelers.com. “Either way, if you make the playoffs or not, it doesn’t matter. We’re not gonna trying to sit back and just tank or whatever, just lose these next two games and try to get a high draft pick.”
If you listen to the audio, Harris gives a stern and passionate answer. If playoffs aren’t on the line the next two weeks, then pride certainly is. Two upcoming contests against AFC North foes, the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns. A win over the Ravens would likely take them out of the AFC North Championship running. Both games against Baltimore and Cleveland would avenge losses earlier in the season, Week 3 to the Browns and Week 14 to the Ravens. And as much as I may loathe the stat, winning out would preserve Mike Tomlin’s non-losing season streak.
For Harris, his goal starting Sunday night is to leave it all on the line.
If we don’t make the playoffs, we can go in and honestly say we played our best every game. And not try to lose. That’s just not us.”
It certainly isn’t head coach Mike Tomlin who for the last two years, have dug the Steelers out of deep holes to get back into the playoff race. In 2021, the team started out 1-3 and after a blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, sat at a mediocre 7-7-1. They won out their final two games, got the help they needed, and punched their ticket to the playoffs, though they were again blown out by the Chiefs. In 2022, the team started in an even deeper hole, 1-4 before bottoming out to 3-7 but have clawed their way back in with a smarter offense and stingier defense since the bye.
While Harris says he’ll be scoreboard watching leading up to kickoff, once the Ravens’ game gets going, he’ll be locked in on Baltimore.
“These next two games, we’re trying to win out and then hope for the best. That’s it. That’s it.”
To beat the Ravens, the Steelers will need a stronger run game than they had in the first matchup. In fact, both trenches must play better. In Week 14, Baltimore racked up 215 yards on the ground as J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards ran all over Pittsburgh’s front seven. On the other side, Harris is 157 yards shy from repeating as a 1000-yard runner. But Harris, as he made clear in this answer, only cares about getting two more wins to end the year.