Share This Page

Steelers refuse to give up on season after setback in Oakland

| Monday, Oct. 28, 2013, 10:36 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Raiders' Daneil Muir (right) takes down Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell in the third quarter Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013, in Oakland, Calif. The Steelers are 31st in the NFL in rushing (481 yards) this season.

They keep saying it right. They keep playing it wrong.

The Steelers lost in Oakland — stop if you've heard this one before — to fall to 2-5, the kind of record that, normally, ceases all playoff conversation from even the most optimistic of believers.

Overall, they are 14th in the 16-team AFC. They are 29th in the NFL in scoring — with only 125 points in seven games, they trail Denver by a whopping 218 points. They're 29th in giveaways/takeaways, tied for 30th in sacks.

Oh, and that 21-18 loss Sunday to the Raiders put them 3 12 games behind the first-place Bengals in the AFC North before midseason.

But perhaps still not quite believing the season is unraveling faster than a Terrelle Pryor length-of-the-field run, the Steelers keep talking as if this is any normal year — which, of course, it isn't. Lose Sunday to the Patriots (6-2), and they'll be 2-6 for only the fourth time since the 1970 NFL merger.

Listen to them speak in a subdued but certainly not somber locker room, and it's almost as if one win or one good performance would repair what is fast becoming the worst season of the Kevin Colbert-Mike Tomlin partnership:

Marcus Gilbert: “We're the type of team that when we face adversity, we answer it. ... We've got to come back swinging. We wanted to win this quarter of the season. We wanted to be 3-1, and we can still be 3-1.”

Even if the Steelers go 7-2 the rest of the way, there is no assurance that a 9-7 record would get them into the postseason.

Ben Roethlisberger: “We felt like we were doing some good things and we were getting better. We just weren't there in all phases.”

Roethlisberger was sacked five more times and, with 26 sacks, is on pace to be sacked a career-high 59 times.

Antonio Brown: “I think we can take a lot of positives out of this. We definitely can get better and need to get better. But we can't turn the ball over, and we need to start fast. ... We'll need to get in the film room, watch the tape and see where we are. I'm sure every man here will take it as an opportunity for us to get better.”

The Steelers have fallen behind by double-digit margins in each of their five losses — three times in the first half. They have been outscored 54-19 in the first quarter and 94-54 in the first half.

“We've stumbled coming out early and found ways to bounce back,” defensive end Brett Keisel said. “We need to not get ourselves in a hole. When we don't get in a hole, we can be pretty tough.”

The Steelers didn't fall behind the Jets or Ravens big early, and they wound up winning both games. Now, though, it's difficult to envision a team that is down to third-team offensive linemen because of injuries, that is 31st in rushing with 481 yards (about one-third as many as the 49ers), putting together a season-saving comeback.

“That's the repercussions of going 0-4,” safety Ryan Clark said. “When you do have a slip-up or a game you don't win, it's magnified that much more because of the way you started.”

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

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.