ShareThis Page

Is Cincinnati still a cure-all for new-look Steelers?

| Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger rolls out against the Titans in the second quarter Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, at Heinz Field.

History suggests the Steelers will upset the Bengals in Cincinnati. History suggests the Steelers will bounce back in a big way from one of their worst season-opening losses of recent vintage.

History suggests the Steelers aren't in big trouble despite losing six of their past eight games dating to last season and having no discernible running game.

“There's no time to panic right now,” Ben Roethlisberger said Wednesday after the Steelers practiced for the first time since their deflating 16-9 loss Sunday to Tennessee. “Let's get ready to bounce back.”

Still, the question persists: When does historical perspective become ancient history and a new set of rules apply?

The Steelers have won 11 of their past 12 in Cincinnati. They dropped their opener each of the past two seasons, then won in Week 2. And they went 12-4 after losing their opener 35-7 in Baltimore two years ago, probably their worst-played loss under coach Mike Tomlin.

“(Sunday) was nowhere near as bad as Baltimore beat us a few years back — and that was a drumming,” safety Ryan Clark said. “For me, you look at the things you have to improve, and you go from there. No one has won the Super Bowl in Week 1.”

But these aren't the same Steelers who were accustomed to enjoying prosperity not long after enduring adversity. They have eight new starters since playing in the Super Bowl less than three years ago and 20 new players since the end of last season.

No one envisioned during training camp that Kelvin Beachum might be their starting center in Week 2 or that Kion Wilson, out of the NFL a year ago, would be a starting linebacker. Or that their backups would include Cody Wallace, Antwon Blake, Terence Garvin and Michael Palmer.

So maybe the rules that always applied to the Steelers are no longer relevant?

“It could be. There are a lot of new faces in here. We're not an old team in here.We're a young team,” Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel said, referring to their 10 players with a year's experience or less. “We're still searching for our first win together as a unit. We need to get over that hump, and hopefully we can.”

Tomlin wasn't happy with much of anything associated with Sunday and was critical of some players during a team meeting Monday. Afterward, Roethlisberger went into the offensive linemen's meeting room to remind them he still supported them.

“Obviously, coach isn't going to be pleased with what happened out there,” right tackle Marcus Gilbert said of Tomlin's reaction to a 32-yard rushing effort.

Regardless, Clark said he likes how the Steelers are reacting to their first home-opener loss since 2002 and the injury loss of center Maurkice Pouncey, linebacker Larry Foote and running back LaRod Stephens-Howling for the season.

He sees no self-doubting, no questioning of talent, no sign the Steelers — even these constantly reconfigured Steelers — aren't ready to win.

“I'm very comfortable, and I feel like we can handle what we're going through. We can handle the adversity,” Clark said. “You can talk about the trials and tribulations of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but all we have to do is go out on Monday night and play football. And all questions will be answered.”

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.