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Steelers notebook: NT Hampton remains confident of turnaround

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By Alan Robinson
Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, 7:56 p.m.

The 34-24 loss to San Diego on Sunday puzzled a number of Steelers players.

“We can't keep doing this,” running back Isaac Redman said. Safety Ryan Clark said, “We didn't have it anywhere.”

Yet nose tackle Casey Hampton is convinced they will turn it around in their final three games.

“I feel great about this team, no question about it,” he said. “We didn't play our best, but going forward I feel like we're going to win every game. That's what we've got to do.”

• The Steelers haven't won in Dallas against a winning-record Cowboys team since 1982, when Gary Anderson kicked three field goals during a 36-28 decision, his first game with them. They lost there in 1985 and '91, and their 24-20 win in 2004 came against a 6-10 team. The Steelers are 2-1 against Dallas in Super Bowls and 13-14 during the season.

• Curtis Brown was benched as the nickel back during the second half Sunday, partly because Chargers receiver Michael Spurlock made five catches for 44 yards just on third down. “He had a great matchup,” Chargers coach Norv Turner said. Brown also was in coverage on Danario Alexander's 39-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. Josh Victorian, promoted from the practice squad Saturday, replaced Brown and was defending on Alexander's 15-yard TD in the fourth quarter. The Chargers were 11 of 22 on third-down conversions against a defense that had allowed only a 34 percent conversion rate.

• The outlook doesn't look good for left guard Willie Colon, who couldn't make it through the first half before reinjuring his left knee. Colon missed the previous two games. He played in only one game in the 2011 and '10 seasons because of injury and now might miss the closing stretch of this season. “It's crazy, man,” teammate Maurkice Pouncey said. “I feel terrible for him.”

• Will home games against the Bengals and Browns work to the Steelers' advantage? Since 2006, they are 9-1 in December against those division opponents. The only loss was in Cleveland in 2009.

• Since Jonathan Dwyer and Redman combined for three consecutive 100-yard games in wins against the Bengals, Redskins and Giants — the first two by Dwyer — no Steelers running back has gained more than 56 yards in a game. Dwyer, their leading rusher, has only 100 yards combined in his past three games. It hasn't helped that the offensive line is dealing with injuries to Colon, right guard David DeCastro and right tackles Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams. The Steelers failed three times on third-and-1 or fourth-and-1 against the Chargers.

• Drew Butler's 79-yard punt was the second longest in team history to an 82-yarder by Joe Geri against the Packers in 1949.

• Plaxico Burress made his first catch for the Steelers since the 2004 season AFC championship game, but was rarely seen afterward. Asked about Burress' absence, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said, “Did you ask coach (Mike Tomlin) about that? It was a good play, and it was nice to get him back in there, hear the crowd cheer for him.”

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