Morose locker room

The Steelers let a share of first place slip from their grasp with their lack of focus in Kansas City, where they lost to a team that understands energy and enthusiasm.

Now that was a dreary locker room.

Walking around the Pittsburgh Steelers locker room following the team's 27-24 overtime collapse against lowly Kansas City, you could see the look of frustration on the faces of many of the veterans.

They feel like they've hit rock bottom. At least they hope they've hit rock bottom.

This is a team that still holds Super Bowl aspirations. Losing last week to Cincinnati was disappointing. Losing to Kansas City after dominating the Chiefs was downright embarrassing.

"We're all going to have to look at what we're doing," said wide receiver Hines Ward. "That includes the players, coaches, everybody."

Former head coach Bill Cowher took a similar tact in 2005 after the Steelers fell to 7-5 and needed to win their final four games to even have a chance to make the playoffs.

The Steelers not only did that, but they also ran the table in the playoffs, winning their fifth Super Bowl.

© A sweep on third-and-two with your slowest running back when you're on the edge of Jeff Reed's field goal range?

Really Bruce Arians?

I've been defending Arians for much of this season, but that's a tough one.

I have to believe Rashard Mendenhall can at least get one yard up the middle in that situation to give you the option of kicking or going for it on fourth-and-one.

© The entire AFC North – which has been talked about as the toughest division in football – lost Sunday. The losses came to Oakland, Kansas City, Detroit and Indianapolis.

The last one is understandable. The first three? Inexcusable – unless you happen to be the Cleveland Browns.

But the Steelers blew a big opportunity to pick up a game on the entire division.

© I could see Cincinnati's loss in Oakland coming.

After beating the Steelers Sept. 23, they struggled to win in Cleveland the following week.

After beating Baltimore Oct. 11, they lost at home to Houston.

The only reason they didn't have a letdown after beating the Ravens the second time around was because they played the Steelers. A letdown was impossible in that situation.

But after beating the Ravens and Steelers back-to-back, even Bruce Gradkowski could beat them.

I didn't see the Steelers losing to Kansas City coming, however.

© The most ominous sign Sunday in Kansas City happened moments before the game began.

One of the Chiefs' cheerleaders rode onto the field on a horse as the team was being announced. Said horse took a dump at the eight-yard line.

The Steelers then followed by taking one the remainder of the day.

© After Casey Hampton had a sack in the first half, I remarked to the guy next to me that it wasn't surprising that Hampton would get to the White Cassel.

I should have seen that coming.

© I asked Keyaron Fox after the game if he thought opposing kick return men were now giving more effort to return kicks against the Steelers, never giving up on a return, because of their well-earned reputation for giving up the big ones.

He agreed with that assessment. And the Steelers had better get used to it. Nobody is going to just run out of bounds against them the rest of this season. They're going to try to squeeze out every yard and not go down easily.

© Lawrence Timmons was on the field for the first kickoff, but wasn't out there the rest of the way. That was the only change made after Jamaal Charles' return.

Timmons was replaced by Keenan Lewis.

© I really felt Sunday's game was a must-win because it was a gimmee putt.

You've got to make the easy ones because you can't count on making the hard ones.

The Steelers have now put themselves in the situation where they pretty much have to go 5-1 – at worst – the rest of the way.

© Rookie Ramon Foster replaced Chris Kemoeatu at left guard after Kemoeatu suffered a sprained MCL on the second play of the second half.

I tried to keep a pretty close eye on Foster and thought he acquitted himself pretty well.

© I don't think the concussion suffered by Ben Roethlisberger in overtime was very serious. He wasn't coming back into this game, but he seemed pretty lucid in the locker room afterward and a couple of the guys I talked to confirmed that.

He'll likely be questionable to play in Baltimore, but I would expect him to play.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.


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