PITTSBURGH - A wise philosopher (I think it was Rick Reuschel) once observed that winning a comeback player award was a mixed blessing.
It was an acknowledgment of an accomplishment, but it also meant that the player's career had gone off the tracks before the success.
That's probably the best way to size up what's happened to the Pittsburgh Steelers over the past two weeks.
They seriously redeemed themselves in Baltimore on Sunday, with the 23-20 victory over the Ravens. But they had so much to overcome after the stinker of a game in Cleveland the week before.
Coach Mike Tomlin obviously made his dissatisfaction with the Browns game known to the players. If they thought his demotion of Rashard Mendenhall to third string on the depth chart was a token paper move, he emphasized it by de-activating Mendenhall for the game.
It wasn't a coincidence that the running backs were fiercely protecting the football on every carry in Baltimore.
It was an emotional game, emphasized by the sideline shot of Charlie Batch caught in Ben Roethlisberger's embrace. Maybe the debacle in Cleveland will turn out to be a late-season wake-up call.
Is Sunday's emotion enough to carry the team through the last four games?
Probably not. Every week is new and different. But at least the Steelers are heading into the last month with a good chance to make the playoffs.
They won't win the division, but they control their destiny for a wild card spot. If they play like they did in Baltimore, they'll have somewhere to go in January.
More than that, they'll have a chance to do something when they get there.
The NHL is trying something new to break the labor deadlock that has led to the lockout.
Different people are now representing both sides. But will that make a difference? This much is certain: The players will be giving back. The point of dispute is how much they'll give.
The league has a strong sense of what that should be, which is why the lockout is approaching three months.
Unless there's some compromise, it won't matter that there are new faces at the bargaining table.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org