PITTSBURGH -- Pride? Jobs? New contracts? Whatever the Pittsburgh Steelers were playing for Sunday night in their 30-20 victory against Cincinnati, they should bottle and bring it out in 2014.
They got off to their fastest start of the season with a 21-0 first-quarter lead and never looked back. That it only raised their record to 6-8 did not seem to matter to them afterward.
"We just wanted to come out and play as hard as we could and show that we are going to give it everything that we have until the end," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said.
And come out and play hard they did. The Steelers' 21 first-quarter points against Cincinnati on Sunday were the most they had scored in that quarter in nine years.
Still, the Steelers remain technically in playoff contention but so many things would have to happen for them to snare that sixth seed it's hardly worth talking about, and even the players did not seem to want to do so afterward.
"I think it's meaningful just because it's a win," safety Ryan Clark said. "When you get the question a lot during the week, 'what do you have to play for?' I think people are looking for you to maybe have the opportunity to come out flat. We didn't do that."
The Steelers need to win their final two games to avoid their first losing season since 2003. They also moved two games ahead of the Cleveland Browns, who rest in last place in the AFC North. The Steelers have not finished last in their division since 1988.
In terms of personal achievement, Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown are having memorable seasons.
Roethlisberger's 340 completions broke his own team record in a season. He has played every snap of 2013.
Brown, who scored his 8th touchdown Sunday night, has 95 receptions, tied for second most in team history. Hines Ward holds the record at 112 in one season. With 1,307 yards, he needs 92 over the next two games to set a team record.
Notes: After the NFL fined Mike Tomlin $100,000 and threatened to take away draft picks when he stepped on the field in Baltimore, the league fined Miami special teams coach Darren Rizzi only $10,000 for doing the same thing against the Steelers at Heinz Field 10 days later.