Mike Prisuta's Fourth & Goal

Mike Tomlin's "unleash hell" edict as a response to the Steelers' three-game losing streak and 6-5 record was entertaining, but unnecessary ...

... So says Ryan Clark.

"(Tomlin) doesn't have to say that," Clark offered. "(Defensive backs) coach (Ray) Horton doesn't have to come in and show me the deep ball that (the Ravens) caught or show me the fourth-down play to Ray Rice because I watched it 10 times already. That's the thing about this team, we want to be great.

"Defensively, it hurts. My wife stayed up until 3 a.m. just so she could talk to me when I got home because she knew how it felt. My agent is calling me constantly because he knows how I feel. And it's not because you necessarily played bad for a whole game. But you feel like the one play you didn't make or the one play you could have made is what cost your team, and if you're a competitor that's how you're supposed to feel.

"It sucks, man. I wish I could put it more eloquently with my very articulate ways, but I can't. It sucks. I hate losing. Right now we're not very good on defense, we're not a very good football team and we have to do something different and be better."

The "something different" won't include Knute Rockne speeches or a players-only meeting.

"You look for that guy that you can always put out in the front and put him on TV and say, ‘Well, so-and-so gave a big speech in the locker room and it changed what everybody was doing and everybody kicked in;' that's only on TV," Clark said. "That happens on shows like ‘Playmakers,' ‘Any Given Sunday,' ‘The Game.' That's not reality. That's not the NFL, at least not on good teams.

"We don't need anybody to sit down and have a players-only meeting, and I'm not knocking the guys that do that. But here we don't need that, guys pull their own. It hurts me to look at Will Gay and Ike Taylor and James Farrior when I feel like I let them down. That's enough. We don't have to talk about it but we have to do something different.

"The coaches are giving a speech in every (position) room. I'm sure every room heard that they were the reason we're not winning right now."

Tomlin has warned against "toting baggage" but what took place against the Ravens will take some effort to let go, at least from Clark's perspective.

"The thing that was bad, I remember seeing Dennis Dixon hanging his head after the game because of the one play he made," Clark said. "I think defensively we felt like he did enough at his position, the offensive did enough for us to win the game; we let them down.

"Any time you have a lead in the fourth quarter you feel like you should win the game. Coach (Dick) LeBeau says it every time the offense goes up, ‘All right, that should be enough. We should be able to win the game.' And when you're letting your team down and you're the quote-unquote strength of the team and you're not doing your job, it weighs heavy on you."

The "unleash hell" declaration seemed to understand and acknowledge all of the above, and suggests the Steelers channel that disappointment and frustration and take it out on the rest of their opponents.

But maybe they didn't need to hear that after all.

Maybe this really is a team comprised of "grown-ass men," to borrow a phrase from Casey Hampton.

But until it begins playing like one again, any and all motivational ploys are worth exploring.


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