Haven't Crashed Yet; Don't Intend To
Rashard Mendenhall's temporary banishment makes it two suspensions for conduct unbecoming, four losses that are being characterized for the most part as unconscionable and, assuming what they're planning for Dallas pans out as anticipated, seven starting combinations along the offensive line as of this Sunday. The Steelers' season continues to feel like a car careening around a corner, barely under control, navigating a two-wheel balancing act. "That's a good way to put it," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger agreed. "But I think the turn is over. I think were gonna settle back on four (wheels) and hopefully kick it into four-wheel drive and get going. "It's that time of year that you're going to be seeing – I know from me in particular and some guys that have been around here – you're going to start seeing a different mindset, mentality, that it's that time of year. In years past, it just was a natural thing. No one's ever had to say it because we've had so many guys that had done it before for such a long time. "This time of year it's just a natural thing that it's time to pick it up and go. We're going to have some veteran guys, I think, starting to do that. We've got to get the young guys to do the same." The "follow me" declarations won't be verbal, Roethlisberger maintained. That's not how the Steelers operate. Another thing they won't do is panic. That's not how they operate, either. "For good or for bad we don't really panic around here," safety Ryan Clark said. "We try to just go out and play and continue to work. We just need to amp it up a little bit and focus. And I think each individual guy has to take that on. I can't tell you what you need to do. I can't come to you and say. ‘Hey, man, you need to focus,' or ‘you need to work this way.' I can just go out and show you through what I'm doing. "We just keep going. You look at the games we lost, you lose to Baltimore; it was a tough game. I don't know that we necessarily played terribly. We understand what happened in Cleveland. We turned the ball over and didn't get it from them. And then you look at last (Sunday), three phases we just didn't play well. We know what happened. All you can do is go out and practice hard and try to prevent it." Outside the locker room, such words probably come across as less than inspirational, less than what's perceived as necessary right about now. But to these Steelers there's still no need for Knute Rockne. Outside the locker room, 7-6 is just shy of a disaster. Inside the locker room, all may not necessarily be well but all remains attainable. That's the Steelers' story and they're sticking to it. Outside the locker room, the coach may be in over his head, veteran leadership may be all but non-existent and the inability to beat mediocre-to-bad teams has clearly betrayed a fatal flaw. But inside on the South Side, the Steelers' belief in themselves and their process and their potential remains unshaken. They have that going for them as they head to Dallas. "I don't look at it how everybody else looks at it," wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. "We try to seek our solutions within the locker room. "You can't have self-inflicted wounds. When you have those, turnovers and penalties and those types of things, you're not going to win many ballgames and that's the reality of it. But as far as looking at leadership and things of that nature, we have good, quality veterans in this locker room and we have young guys willing to listen. "You glance at where you are and you keep it moving. Right now we have the sixth spot (in the AFC playoff chase). We're not seeking comfort in that but we know we're playing for something. We just have to go out and get it done. "We're a good football team. We don't need any knee-jerk reactions. We're going to respond accordingly."