GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — After an exhilarating win in the snow, Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu got even better news when he returned to the locker room.
Remarkably, the Steelers are still in the playoff chase.
Polamalu's forced fumble set up Le'Veon Bell's 1-yard touchdown run with 1:28 left, then Pittsburgh withstood Green Bay's last throw into the end zone and dealt the Packers' playoff hopes a blow with a 38-31 victory Sunday.
It's a longshot, but the Steelers (7-8), after starting 0-4 this season, are still mathematically in the hunt for an AFC wild-card spot. They need a lot of help.
"It's been a long road for us, but we still have our struggles. We were one play from losing that game," Polamalu said.
It would be a near-miracle if they can get through another week. The Steelers need to beat the Browns in Week 17, and need the Dolphins, Ravens and Chargers — all 8-7 — to lose.
"It's irrelevant, to be honest. Nothing has changed from our standpoint," Polamalu said. "Our mental approach to the game has got to be a week-by-week thing."
The loss meant Green Bay (7-7-1) needed Chicago to lose at Philadelphia on Sunday night to stay in playoff contention.
"I'm not into drama," coach Mike McCarthy said. "We wanted to control our own destiny, we let that opportunity out of our hands."
The Packers were back in control by night's end. The Bears lost 54-11, turning next week's matchup with Green Bay into a showdown for the NFC North title at Soldier Field.
Bell's TD came soon after scrambling Packers quarterback Matt Flynn fumbled while being tackled by Polamalu. The Steelers recovered at the Packers 17 and scored five plays later, aided in part by an encroachment penalty by the Packers' Nick Perry, on what would have been a field-goal attempt, to extend the drive.
Micah Hyde's 70-yard kickoff return to the Steelers 31 gave the Packers one last chance. Green Bay got to the 1, but Flynn's pass to Jarrett Boykin sailed incomplete in the end zone to end the game.
The last few seconds were marred by a false start penalty that pushed the Packers back to the 6 and included a 10-second runoff down to 10 seconds remaining. The Packers didn't get the snap off until 3 seconds were left, and Flynn said it appeared the umpire was holding up the center but started the clock while backing up.