Steelers running on empty
Jerricho Cotchery was among a handful of Steelers still hovering around the locker room that quickly emptied after a disheartening 16-9 defeat to the underdog Tennessee Titans on Sunday at Heinz Field.
Cotchery sat on a stool near his locker pondering how the team's plans to right their wayward ship went awry during the team's first home-opening defeat in a decade. Admittedly, the answers were bountiful in the aftermath of an uninspiring performance that silenced a usually vociferous home crowd.
The veteran receiver, who scored the only points for a beleaguered offense with a 4-yard reception from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the waning minutes, said the Steelers' problems weren't simply a matter of a flawed game plan.
Rather, he focused on the Steelers' inability to create game-altering plays.
“At the end of the day, we have to get something going,” Cotchery said. “We have to make some plays and get in a groove. It's tough watching the defense come off the field after playing as hard as they did. Those guys were tired because we couldn't get anything going.”
The defense has been the focus of criticism the past two seasons for not forcing more turnovers. But Cotchery said the offense has to shoulder much of the blame, considering it generated only 195 yards, including 32 rushing.
However, safety Troy Polamalu wouldn't let the defense off the hook. He said the defense, which has been No. 1 in the NFL the past two seasons, again failed to deliver a momentum-shifting turnover to help out a struggling offense.
“We had few opportunities, but we did have opportunities,” said Polamalu, who had six tackles but couldn't come up with a tipped ball in the first quarter. “We just didn't capitalize on our chances. There were definitely a lot of mistakes we made that we have to improve on as a team. Our success this year depends on whether we can correct those mistakes.”
Unlike the Steelers, the Titans delivered, mostly in the run game, including a back-breaking 12-run drive that culminated with Tennessee's only touchdown, a 3-yard run by Jackie Battle. If nothing else, the Steelers' game-day film gives Cincinnati something it might exploit Monday night.
“It's tough to make splash plays if teams are going to commit to the run game,” Polamalu said. “We know there has to be ebb and flow in the game, whether it's stuffing the run or forcing second- or third-and-long situations. It's hard to force turnovers when they can run the ball.”
The Steelers wanted to run the ball, too. It was part of the preseason plan, but it blew up as the offensive line imploded before and after center Maurkice Pouncey went down with a season-ending right-knee injury.
“It all works together. If we hold the ball more, the defense is fresher,” Cotchery said. “Everybody can look at something they feel can help this team to create some momentum.
“Tennessee is a good football team, but I feel we are, too. We just have to get it done. Every man has to look at himself to see what he can do better to help this team. It's the approach we have to have if we're going to win.”
Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RalphPaulk_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Red Wings rally, shock Penguins in overtime
- Rossi: Middling Steelers must make a statement
- Man shot, killed after leaving Elliott bar early Friday
- Predators winger Neal caught ‘blindsided’ by trade from Penguins
- Report linking field surface to cancer elicits Mt. Lebanon protest
- House has Pitt defense trending in right direction
- Former Ligonier Township supervisor accused of abusing position, viewing porn on the job
- Steelers free safety Mitchell is still settling into role on defense
- Steelers’ Adams delivers in pinch against Texans
- Heyl: ‘Mr. Peduto Head’ products could earn city much-needed revenue
- Federal grand jury reviewing Liquor Control Board violations, sources tell Trib