Steelers embrace new attitude after beating Bills
LaMarr Woodley looked relieved as he stood next to his locker after the Steelers snapped a two-game losing streak with a 23-10 win over Buffalo on Sunday at Heinz Field.
For Woodley, the victory signaled an attitude change in a team trying to steer its wayward ship back on course. It also proved a test of character for a team suddenly with some semblance of hope after AFC North leader Cincinnati dropped its second straight.
The Steelers (3-6) were seemingly cautious of making too much of their conquest of Buffalo (3-7). They tempered victory with a calm sense of reality — that the odds are against a 3-6 team fighting its way into playoff contention.
“We answered the call and played like we're supposed to do,” Woodley said. “I can't speak for everyone else, but anytime you lose, you're going to have a different mindset.
“I think the guys put the New England game (a 55-31 loss) behind them. We have moved on, and all we're thinking about is the next game.”
The Detroit Lions, vying for the NFC North title, are here Sunday at Heinz Field. The Lions are likely to be a more formidable foe than Buffalo, mostly because wide receiver Calvin Johnson is a matchup nightmare.
However, the Steelers contend they aren't nearly as concerned about Johnson and the Lions as they are about where they are both mentally and their standing in the division.
The Steelers were challenged early as Buffalo played most of the first quarter on their side of the field. They regained their confidence after holding the Bills to three points — a turning point that enabled the offense to stick with its game plan.
“We have no choice in how we take the field,” safety Ryan Clark said. “But we have a choice in our attitude and how we approach the game.”
Clark, though, said there's still plenty of room for improvement.
“We used to be much better than this,” he said. “But it was a good day, though.”
Even though the Steelers were far better than they were at New England, they didn't pass every test. The defense was determined to hold its ground in the waning minutes as Buffalo desperately tried to salvage something out of an ugly performance.
As the Bills were driving for their only touchdown, Clark implored the defense to make one last stand. If nothing else, keeping Buffalo out of the end zone would have been a psychological victory — or proof the Steelers have a new attitude.
“We wanted to get a stop,” Clark insisted. “We kept them out of the end zone all day. We wanted to continue in the way that was going. So it was tough to give up that play at the end.
“When you've been going through what we've been going through as a team (and) as a defense, (in) all situations (you) need an opportunity to work on. That was another.”
Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RalphPaulk_Trib.
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