Weather Changes, Not Perspective

Ike Taylor was up to multi-tasking on Monday, consenting to an interview while munching on potato chips and acquiescing to Ben ...

... Roethlisberger's barking demands that Taylor participate in that shuffleboard table game the Steelers love to play in their locker room at the South Side facility.

It was a 180-degree turn from Thursday, when Taylor appeared incapable of chewing gum and covering a wide receiver at the same time.

"We all have 'em," Taylor said of his Nightmare in Nashville. "It happens.

"You ain't playin' 120-something games for nothing. Every time it's not going to go your way; gotta bounce back, that's all."

The Nightmare in Nashville was actually Taylor's 160th career NFL game, counting playoffs. But hey, who's counting?

You have to have a short memory on the corner, particularly after games such as the one Taylor endured during the Steelers' 26-23 loss to a still-wretched Tennessee Titans team.

Taylor doesn't remember it as his being picked on in Nashville but concedes the Titans "had some success over there (at his expense) so why not keep doing it?"

He may have lost track of his man and/or the ball repeatedly, but Taylor still has his trademark confidence, that metaphorical sheepskin from "Swaggin' U."

"No question," Taylor confirmed. "Don't nothin' change but the weather."

Across the locker room James Harrison wasn't playing games. He chose instead to look ahead to "hopefully" reuniting with LaMarr Woodley as an outside linebacking duo that can not only start but also finish a game together in Cincinnati.But Harrison doesn't see such a potential development as the quick-fix the Steelers seek.

"What we need is to play better defense the whole game, better situational defense," Harrison said. "Guys need to take responsibility for their actions and do exactly what the defense is called to do.

"Overall, it's just breakdowns within the defense, not executing, guys playing different calls than are actually called, not getting all around, snap-in, snap-out execution of the defense. Some of it's communication. Some of it's knowledge. Some of it's just technique."

As an example of the latter, Harrison broke down the play in Nashville that ultimately broke the Steelers' backs, the 25-yard Matt Hasselbeck-to-Jared Cook catch-and-run that positioned Tennessee for the game-wining field goal.

"Bad technique," Harrison said. "I didn't get in front of him. He took off and caught the ball. He did his job, I didn't."

Taylor, likewise, made a bad decision on a third-and-10 snap from the Steelers' 15-yard line on what became the Titans' game-tying touchdown drive. His contesting of a pass to Damian Williams in the vicinity of the Steelers' 10 resulted in a flag for defensive holding. Had Taylor just tackled the catch in that instance Tennessee would have faced a fourth down and, perhaps, Taylor may never have been beaten for that game-tying touchdown three plays later.

Those are the little things that have been killing the Steelers. It's not as if they've given up a combined 441 yards rushing over their last two games or blown any 24-point leads at home lately. They just haven't been winning games of late at the rate to which they've become accustomed.

The 2-3 record that's resulted is one the Steelers have earned, one they deserve.

We'll begin to find out on Sunday night in Cincinnati if disasters such as Oakland and Tennessee are to ultimately define the Steelers this season, or if they're still capable of reducing such debacles into a mere aberration. If they're to fix what ails them, they'll need to start that process against the Bengals.

"It's not a huge hole," Brett Keisel maintained regarding the Steelers' present plight. "We have a huge stretch coming up. All of our division games are still in front of us.

"We still have a lot of guys in here who are been-there, done-that guys. We expect those of us who have been here to step up and make plays like that, make situational plays during the game that affect the outcome of the game. There's still a lot of football left."

And a lot of multi-tasking yet to master.


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