By: Chris Gates

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — The Steelers injury report was bleak heading into Sunday’s Wildcard game at Denver.

On offense, center Maurkice Pouncey and running back Rashard Mendenhall were unavailable — Mendenhall for the rest of the season to a torn ACL.

Defensively, free safety Ryan Clark wasn’t available because of his sickle cell trait. His absence shifted responsibility throughout the secondary, and not long into the first quarter responsibility along the defensive line shifted as well.

Both nose tackle Casey Hampton (knee) and defensive end Brett Keisel (groin) went out with injuries in the first quarter that sidelined them for the rest of the game. In turn, rookie nose tackle Cameron Heyward and defensive end Steve McLendon were thrust into action.

When asked about injuries affecting the game, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin refused to entertain the thought that players missing in action affected the game’s outcome. He said it’s the way things go in the NFL.

“You know better than that,” he said. “We don’t live in that world. We don’t make excuses in regards to injuries. The guys we put on the field were capable of doing the job and the reason we didn’t do the job is because we didn’t perform. We didn’t perform well enough from a coaching standpoint and from a player standpoint.”

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