Lolley: Silver linings in tough loss

Dale Lolley could feel the disappointment in the Steelers' locker room, but there were bright spots:

We've all heard the saying about what excuses are like, so we don't have to repeat it here.

Just know that the Pittsburgh Steelers weren't making any excuses following their 17-14 loss here at Heinz Field Sunday to the Baltimore Ravens.

This, despite the fact the Steelers may have had the best excuse of all for losing to the Ravens. They didn't have their starting quarterback available to them.

Is there anyone out there who thinks that the outcome of Sunday's game would have been far different had Roethlisberger, who returns from his four-game suspension Monday, played against the Ravens?

It would probably be difficult to find someone even in Baltimore who wouldn't agree to that.

But, these Steelers have been quick to say that they are a team, not one player.

And because of that, the only things coming out of the Steelers' locker room Sunday were apologies, not excuses.

"We had a great chance get off the field and win the game for our team, but we just didn't come up the plays," said linebacker James Farrior after the Steelers allowed Baltimore to score the winning touchdown pass with 32 seconds remaining.

Just as the defense felt responsible for giving up the lead, the offense felt responsible for not being able to get one first down after the defense had stopped the Ravens four times from inside the 10-yard line on their previous possession, turning the ball over on downs at the Pittsburgh 3.

"We had two false start penalties down there and kept on getting backed up," said wide receiver Hines Ward. "I kept telling the guys that if we could get one first down, the game was over. Defensively, we played our tails off, but we left a lot of plays out there (offensively)."

The lack of finger pointing in a game the Steelers could have won if not for a play here or there, is what helped hold this team together without its best offensive player in the opening month of the season.

It's also the sign of a veteran group that not just hopes to win games, but expects to do so.

It would have been easy for anyone to point fingers, whether they be at the defense, offense or special teams. But the Steelers meant what they said whenever they asnwered questions about Roethlisberger: They are a team.

* The Steelers were thisclose to being 4-0, which is probably why there were a lot of long faces following this game.

It might have been easier on the players had they been blown out.

"We're 3-1 but we could easily be 4-0 right now," said Ward. "It hurts a little bit."

The hurt will sting a little less when they walk into the practice facility Monday and see Roethlisberger.

Regardless of your position on his off-field problems, it's undeniable that Roethlisberger makes the Steelers a better team.

* It should also be noted that the Steelers lost a game in which cornerback Ike Taylor actually intercepted a pass.

I know, I know. Monumental stuff.

* How fast is Lawrence Timmons? At one point when he blitzed off the left side, I thought it was Taylor coming on a corner blitz because he got there so quickly, and all I saw though my binoculars was a blur with a 4 on it.

* Too bad for William Gay, the oft-criticized cornerback.

Had the Steelers held on to win this one, it may have been Gay who would have been the hero after breaking up consecutive passes in the end zone on Baltimore's previous possession.

* All those people who wanted to cut Antwaan Randle El, and Gay, for that matter, should be biting their tongues right now. Both made some big plays Sunday.

* Some of the media bozos -- i.e. TV sportscasters -- were running around the locker room asking why the Steelers didn't pass the ball from their own 3 on third down with under two minutes to play.

Do these guys watch football or just pretend to?

Running the ball was the right thing to do there. The problem was the two false start penalties that moved the ball back to the original line of scrimmage twice. But you certainly don't want Charlie Batch dropping back to pass in the end zone in that situation.

(Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.)

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