Polamalu's disappointment could mean trouble for Bengals
Just as Drew Brees throwing four interceptions prior to his dissection of one of the NFL's worst statistical pass defenses didn't bode well for the Steelers, the same may be said of the Bengals when it comes to Troy Polamalu.
The All-Pro strong safety was unusually hard on himself after the Steelers' 20-10 loss to the Saints on Sunday.
And that probably won't make things any easier Monday night for the Bengals in Cincinnati.
Such logic is the same that applied to the Saints quarterback a week ago: Polamalu is simply too good a player to expect another subpar game from him.
And after the Steelers' second loss of the season, it didn't sound like the five-time Pro Bowler simply will shrug off his performance as a rare bad day at the office.
"If I did my job in the second half (against the Saints), we would have won the game," Polamalu said.
He blew an assignment that led to a 50-yard reception by Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem in the fourth quarter. When pointed out that the biggest play of the game at that point did not cost the Steelers because they recovered a fumble three plays later, Polamalu would hear none of it.
"I didn't hold up my end of the job the two safeties have to do," said Polamalu, who had six tackles against the Saints. "I felt like I was one step away on every play. There's a lot for me, personally, to learn from this game."
The game did nothing to discourage questions about a pass defense that now ranks 25th in the NFL (243.1 yards per game).
Even more disconcerting is the Steelers allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 68 percent of passes. For comparison's sake, the Steelers yielded a completion rate of 56.5 percent in 2008.
If the Steelers want to achieve what they did two seasons ago when they won a sixth Super Bowl, they have to tighten up their pass defense.
And it may start with Polamalu in Cincinnati.
Left tackle Max Starks, on the Steelers getting stopped three times from inside the Saints' 1-yard line Sunday:
"I think we've been running the ball very well this year, minus the last week, and I think when we get in those situations where we need half a yard, you usually think that's going to get in. But they just outflanked us and outsmarted us on those three plays."
Strong safety Troy Polamalu, on the Steelers without injured defensive end Aaron Smith:
"We're going to miss Aaron, but when we've played teams like Baltimore and Miami, teams that have run-first offenses, that's when we'll see whether or not we miss him. Obviously, Aaron is a huge asset to our team and, of course, we miss him, but we'll see how we react when we play a really solid run team."
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, on the direction of the team despite Sunday's loss:
"We got knocked down a little bit, and now, it will be interesting to see how we will bounce back. We'll just have to evaluate things, but I don't think there's any reason to panic."
3 questions with DE Brett Keisel
You may be the best basketball player on the Steelers. Who is your starting five from this locker room?
"At the '5' would be Max (Starks). I would be the '4' because I like to bang down low. At the '3' we would put Ben (Roethlisberger). The '2' would be Ike (Taylor) and at the point, we'd have Antwaan (Randle El)."
If you were NFL commissioner for a day, what is one thing you would do?
"If I was commissioner for a day, the one thing I would do is make sure the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) got done that day so we know we're going to play football for a long time and it's over and done with and we can move forward."
What is on your bucket list?
"I want to skydive. I want to get in a cage with Great Whites (sharks), and I want to go to Australia."
3: Bengals turnovers in their last four wins against the Steelers dating back to 2005
-8: The Steelers' turnover differential in their last four losses to AFC North rival Cincinnati
11:08: Steelers edge in time of possession in two games against the Bengals in 2009
82.5: Rushing yards the Steelers averaged in the four games that Roethlisberger missed while suspended
95.7: Rushing yards the Steelers have averaged in the three games since Roethlisberger's return
3 players to watch
Terrell Owens/Chad Ochocinco, Bengals WRs
It's hard to differentiate between the two entertainers/football players now that they are in the Queen City, but they have combined for 1,087 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in seven games.
Carson Palmer, Bengals QB
He has been riding a hot streak, as he has averaged 272 passing yards and thrown for nine touchdowns in Cincinnati's last four games.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers QB
Will be looking for some redemption after having an off game (20 of 40, 174 yards, interception) the last time the Steelers played the Bengals.