By Christina Rivers
Like characters in the Tom Hanks movie, “Castaway,” the Pittsburgh Steelers are a cast of marooned talent. With “Wilson” written on the ball, they continue to struggle finding a way to get him into the end zone and in their possession favorably. During their 55-31 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday, there were defensive players who looked as if they were on islands of their own. Falling to 2-6 on the 2013 NFL regular season, the Steelers continue to look for hope on the horizon as they discover new territory in the face of a Buffalo Bills team that is ready to strand them once again.
Pittsburgh has talent, and the meeting between the Patriots should have been one in which two rather evenly matched teams in 2013 battled back and forth. Unfortunately for the Steelers, Tom Brady improved his mere 74.9 passer rating, Pittsburgh fell behind early and then collapsed altogether in the fourth quarter. In the end, the Patriots put up more yards and scored more points than any opponent in Steelers history – including the inaugural 1933 team.
“We got kicked in the mouth,” said defensive end Cameron Heyward on Monday. “We didn’t get the job done, from the defensive line, to the linebackers, to the secondary. We didn’t do a good job and I hope everybody learns from this … If anything that is how a defense should not play.”
Although Coach Mike Tomlin has said many times this season in press conferences that he hasn’t witnessed his players getting frustrated or disappointed, those times are over. “Obviously a disappointing performance,” said Tomlin post-game. “Probably as disappointed as I have been.” And the doubters are beginning to wonder if Dick LeBeau has lost his mojo as much as they are calling for offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s head.
Linebacker Stevenson Sylvester stepped in for rookie Vince Williams after Williams suffered a concussion during the Patriots game and said on Monday, “We have certain things we have to do, and people trying to do too much, myself included … All we have to do is our job and everything will work out for itself. We have to get back to what we do.” Sylvester added, “It’s hard, especially on a team like this and the position we’re in. Nobody wants to be in this position.”
When asked about the game, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said, “We were doing some good things, but close isn’t good enough.” Roethlisberger echoed the sentiments of Tomlin, “I think we are all angry and disappointed, so that’s probably collectively what’s in this locker room.”
The Week Ahead
On top of Williams’ concussion, cornerback Ike Taylor also suffered the same malady and will take the ImPact test this week. Offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert suffered a right ankle injury. Kelvin Beachum has a left hip flexor that could limit his practice time early in the week. Heyward has a left knee contusion and center Fernando Velasco a thigh contusion.
On a lighter note, guard David Decastro is slated to begin full practice on Wednesday as will receiver Markus Wheaton.
The Steelers have signed cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke as of Tuesday. Van Dyke saw action in nine games with the Steelers in 2012. Cornerback Isaiah Green was released.
Receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who had a great game against the Patriots is looking forward to play against the Bills. “We have to start faster as an offense,” said Cotchery. “The focus is getting a win. That is the only thing we care about, getting a win. So, we just have to go back to the drawing board and get ready for (this coming) week.”
Perhaps the rain of defeat will end and the Steelers will create the raft they need to free themselves in Week 10. Rowing away from the isle of disappointment with pure determination to succeed looks to be a tall task, but one that is absolutely necessary if Pittsburgh wants to rescue their season. If not, some drastic changes may be in place for Pittsburgh.
For more Steelers news and updates, visit Steelers Central.
Christina Rivers has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers and National Football League professionally as a reporter and photographer for over a decade. Rivers studied exercise physiology and sports psychology at Brigham Young University as a student-athlete. Christina is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. Her work can be found on