Bettis doesn't see a post-bye funk

PITTSBURGH – Statistics tell us a win before the bye week leads to a better result after the bye week; at least that's been the case for the Steelers under coach Bill Cowher.

Under Cowher, the Steelers are 1-4 following a week of rest after a loss. Counting the two weeks off after a 2001 loss, the Steelers are 2-4 in such a scenario.

Following a week of rest after a win, the Steelers are 5-2.

Jerome Bettis, for one, laughed at the numbers and what they attempt to predict for the Steelers' Monday night game at San Diego.

The Steelers, of course, lost to the New England Patriots before taking this past Sunday off.

"I think it's all coincidence and who you're playing," said Bettis. "I dare to say, about the 5-2 [record], the combined record of the teams we played was not as good as the teams we played when we were 2-4."

Bettis is right, to a degree. After a win and a week off, the Steelers played teams that finished with a winning percentage of .455. After a loss and a week off, their opponents were .427. Toss out 3-13 Buffalo in 2001 and the latter percentage is .475.

"Sometimes you come back and you're not as in sync," Bettis allowed. "So it's hard to say."

Bettis practiced Monday with the rest of his teammates and hopes to be active for Monday's game. He missed the first three games with an injury, as has Duce Staley. In their places, Willie Parker rushed for 327 yards (5.1) and Verron Haynes rushed for 64 (3.2) to lead the NFL's fifth-ranked rushing game (140 yards per game).

All four halfbacks practiced yesterday, but none of them knows how Cowher will use them Monday night. Since neither Staley nor Bettis plays special teams, only one of the two veterans should expect to be activated.

"I hope I play," Bettis said. "It's still up in the air right now. I don't know how it's going to work itself out. I just know I have to practice hard and hopefully it will work itself out."

Parker, of course, bows to the veterans, but his speed makes him a lock for a prime spot in the rotation. Haynes said after practice that he's still the third-down back. Bettis, whose injury occurred later than Staley's, ran better than Staley during practice, so Bettis could make a sizeable contribution against the Chargers, who just blasted the Patriots, 41-17, at New England.

"They're going to have a lot of confidence," Bettis said. "They'll be saying ‘We just smacked around the team that just beat this team.' So you've got to think they'll have some confidence. We'll have to get off to a good start because that crowd's going to be loud and obnoxious."

And the Steelers could be shrouded in a funk, considering the statistics and the psychology of sitting out a week after a tough loss.

Bettis, of course, disagrees.

"No, because we knew we had an opportunity to win that game," he said. "If you get beat soundly, you go into that bye week guessing, wondering if what you're doing is the right thing. We know we're doing the right thing. It's just a matter of us finishing.

"Sometimes when you lose going into the bye, there are a lot of questions you've got to answer. With the way we lost that game, I don't think there are a lot of questions we need to answer. We need to be able to finish the game earlier than that point. We put ourselves into that position because we went in a lull the third and fourth quarter offensively, so we need to be able to keep that going. We know the problems that we had. It's not a situation where we're scratching our head, saying we need to make some changes."

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