Groping For 0-4 Damage Control

LONDON – Mike Tomlin wanted to get to the point and didn't waste any time getting there ... and more from Mike Prisuta after his visit to Wembley Stadium.

"I like the fight of the guys," Tomlin said after his Steelers came from 17 points down in the fourth quarter to within 6 yards of forcing overtime against Minnesota.

"I like their belief in what we're doing and each other, we just gotta do it better. We're not gonna make any excuses. We're gonna chew everything that we got coming, obviously. But more importantly than that, we're going to focus on getting better. That's what's going to change the outcome of these football games.

"Those that don't ain't going to be a part of us."

That challenge to his players was issued during Tomlin's opening remarks following Sunday's 34-27 setback at Wembley Stadium. And that context is as significant as Tomlin's message.

He didn't wait to be asked a question before making certain everyone is clear regarding the Steelers' expectations at 0-4.

There will be no finger-pointing, no dissension or dejection tolerated.

Tomlin will demand his players ensure that he sees "belief" and "effort" and "improvement in detail" in the Minnesota aftermath.

"If I don't they ain't gonna be a part of it, whoever it may be," Tomlin said. "It's just that simple."

It amounted to an unofficial acknowledgement that the Steelers' objectives have gone from winning a game to not falling completely apart.

The latter development is as much of a threat to the Steelers right about now as Adrian Peterson.

They're normally above such concerns. But with two weeks to chew on 0-4 and with a different problem compromising their efforts every week, anything's possible.

If it's not the turnovers or the tackling it's the left tackle.

Against Minnesota it was all of the above.

And after Sunday's comeback attempt fizzled in about as frustrating a manner as that 17-point deficit had been created in the first place, the Steelers falling apart from within seemed about as plausible a scenario as Jared Allen beating Mike Adams.

Ryan Clark called the performance of the defense "embarrassing," and maintained the threat of ramifications was very real.

"When you start to lose you have to find a solution," Clark explained. "If the solution isn't the X's & O's it has to be the people. Obviously, what we've done around here with this regime of coaches has been successful so, obviously, it's not what they're teaching. It's not the way we're preparing because that is proven that it works.

"So clearly it's the 11 people on the field at certain times that aren't doing what they're supposed to do, and we understand that. I've been in the NFL long enough to know that Mondays after losses is the time when things change. If we want to keep this same group in the locker room, if we want to see these same faces, we have to do something better."

If they don't, there's not a great deal Tomlin and the Steelers can do about it at this point.

Someone has to play left tackle.

And it's not as if there are options aplenty out there on the NFL scrap heap just waiting for a phone call.

But by threatening to lop off a couple of heads Tomlin was presumably trying to inspire the group to remain committed to the group.

There are, after all, 12 games still to play.

And until the Steelers prove capable of winning one, this has the potential to get really ugly.

"We're not in a panic mode but we're in let's-get-this-stuff-together mode," William Gay maintained. "Right now we're 0-4. We can live with that right now but as soon as week six comes we have to be 1-0. That's where we gotta start from and that's the approach (Tomlin) is looking for.

"We don't have to worry about separation; it's not in this locker room. We love each other too much to do that. We don't want to hurt each other. We're gonna take it personally and get better."

Ben Roethlisberger stressed how critical it is that the Steelers "stick together.

"That's what we do," he said. "That's what we need to do."

That such notions need to be reinforced publicly after just one month betrays how fast and how far the Steelers have fallen.

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