Bires: Steelers will rebound quickly

TEXT SIZE By: Mike Bires Beaver County Times
Tuesday November 2, 2010 12:07 AM

PITTSBURGH — As the Steelers reported for meetings and videotape review Monday, there was a quiet-yet-determined resolve about them.

Sure, they were disappointed about losing Sunday night in New Orleans. But that 20-10 loss did nothing to detract from their belief that they still have the talent to contend for the Super Bowl.

As it stands, they’re one of five 5-2 AFC teams looking up at New England, which, at 6-1, owns the NFL’s best record.

And if they win this coming Monday night in Cincinnati, the Steelers will be 6-2 at the halfway point of their season.

If the Steelers get to 6-2, that’s as good a start as they could have imagined considering Ben Roethlisberger began on a four-game suspension.

“There’s no need to panic,” wide receiver Hines Ward said. “We have a terrific football team.”

Ward is right about that. The Steelers are perceived nationally as one of the NFL’s best teams, and rightfully so.

They have already beaten three five-win teams (5-2 Atlanta, 5-3 Tennessee and 5-2 Tampa Bay). Their two losses have come against five-win teams (5-2 Baltimore and 5-3 New Orleans).

They have an offense led by an elite quarterback in Roethlisberger, who admittedly didn’t have his best game Sunday night in the Superdome. They have a defense that still leads the NFL in fewest points allowed.

For the Steelers to really be “terrific” as Ward says they are, it would behoove them to get their running game back on track, especially when they’re close to the goal line.

Clearly, what was most disappointing about losing to the Saints was the Steelers’ failure to score a touchdown on three straight rushes after a first-and-goal at the half-yard line early in the second quarter.

If the Steelers would have scored a TD there instead of settling for a field goal, they would have gained early momentum and quieted the rowdy Halloween night crowd at least for a bit.

Instead, the Saints and their fans were elated about that goal-line stand.

No doubt, Mike Tomlin, coordinator Bruce Arians and the rest of the offensive coaches will dissect the videotape of that ill-fated goal line series and try to resolve that problem.

On the other side of the ball, the Steelers’ defense needs to tighten up its pass defense. But that’s something that shouldn’t be hard to do.

For one thing, no one expects strong safety Troy Polamalu to repeat the performance he had against the Saints. Credit goes to Drew Brees for throwing for 305 yards. But he did so on a night when Polamalu played well below the high standard he sets for himself.

“It knocks you down a little bit and makes you re-evaluate yourself,” Roethlisberger said of the Steelers’ state of mind after losing in New Orleans. “It’s a gut-check for us.”

Obviously, the Steelers want to win every game they play. They didn’t find any consolation in playing the reigning Super Bowl champs close on their home turf.

Still, this wasn’t a devastating loss. That’s why the Steelers weren’t down in the dumps when they showed up at team headquarters Monday.

They believe they will learn from this loss and ultimately be a better team because of it.