Finding a way to lose

<b>SAN FRANCISCO - </b> Monday night's 30-14 loss to the San Francisco 49ers was typical of the Steelers' season. As they had done in six of their seven losses this season, the Steelers did just enough Monday night to lose.

Of course the only game in which they were completely outplayed was against the Cleveland Browns last month - the same Cleveland Browns team they must play this weekend with the hopes of salvaging this lost season.

Two bad turnovers, dropped passes and missed assignments on defense cost the Steelers against the 49ers. But that is what bad teams do. They find ways to lose games.

Monday night, the Steelers sounded a lot like a team that was beginning to realize that they just aren't that good.

© Of course it's 4 a.m. Tuesday and I'm writing this as I fly somewhere over the heartland. There's a bad Vin Diesel movie playing - is that redundant? - and I'm about the only person still awake on the plane.

© Did Joey Porter play Monday night? Oh that's right, he was out there. I saw him do his boot after Mike Logan stuffed Garrison Hearst on a short running play.


© Is anybody on this Steelers defense ever going to make a play?

Where are the strips? Where are the interceptions? Where the heck is the coverage? How about the pass rush?

© Four games without an interception may be a record for the Steelers. Think about that.

They have had over 100 passes thrown against them without taking one the other way.

I think the only time they came close during that stretch was Troy Polamalu's miss at the goal line against St. Louis. You'll remember that play. The ball went through Polamalu's arms and into the hands of wide receiver Dane Looker. It's been that kind of season.

© I am more convinced than ever the Steelers' two biggest needs are a cornerback and a running back.

Tommy Maddox was fine Monday night. He certainly played well enough for the Steelers to win the game if the receivers don't drop the eight or so passes they did.

But there are no playmakers in that secondary and we saw Sunday what even a decent running back can do against teams like St. Louis and Kansas City if they get the ball enough. Rudi Johnson lit up Kansas City for the Bengals, and Anthony Thomas had a nice game for the Bears against St. Louis.

The Steelers couldn't run on either of those teams. In fact, the Steelers have been unable to run against anyone.

© Hines Ward said after the game he had the worst game of his career. He's right. Three drops and giving up seven yards on a wide receiver screen pass were not vintage Ward plays. But Ward wasn't alone.

Jay Riemersma has officially become a bad signing. Riemersma is a receiving tight end who can't catch and who looks to be as fragile as a China doll.

© The Steelers had three penalties for 30 yards, their fewest of the season by far. They also converted 8-of-16 third downs compared to 4-of-12 for San Francisco.

Hey, I'm just giving you a little silver lining.

© Hate to say it, but I saw a lot of clueless faces in that locker room Monday night. This team has no idea how to solve the problems it faces.

I get the feeling the coaching staff is in the same boat. Sometimes you just get a bad mix.

© It's now time for Chris Hope at free safety. Nothing more to lose.

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