View Full Version : Cook: Steelers let many down

12-11-2009, 12:04 AM
Cook: Steelers let many down
Friday, December 11, 2009
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward is consoled by wide receivers coach Randy Fichtner in the final seconds of the Steelers' loss at Cleveland Browns Stadium last night.

CLEVELAND -- It's one thing to lose a football game. It happens to half of the teams in the NFL every week. When the Steelers lost in Baltimore in overtime Nov. 29 without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, safety Troy Polamalu and defensive end Aaron Smith, it was understandable. In some ways, their performance even was admirable.

But it's something much worse to be a professional and play as if you don't care. That was the Steelers last night. Coach Mike Tomlin was correct a few days earlier when he said he would find out plenty about the character of his players. They revealed themselves completely in an almost unbelievable 13-6 defeat at the frozen hands of the Cleveland Browns.

The Steelers are losers.

There is no other word to describe a team that was fighting for its playoff life and the right to defend its Super Bowl title, only to be thoroughly outplayed by the 1-11 Browns.

There is no other word to describe a team that has lost five games in a row, including three to the worst that the NFL has to offer: the Browns, the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs.

There is no other word to describe a team that, by all indications, has quit on the Rooneys, Tomlin, their fans and -- most egregiously -- themselves.


It seems unfathomable that a team that went into Denver Nov. 9 and bucked the Broncos, 28-10, to go to 6-2 can be so bad barely a month later. But the Steelers are just that -- dreadfully bad -- in every sense of the phrase and in every phase of the game.

Their offense couldn't score a touchdown against the NFL's worst defense.

Their defense couldn't force a turnover against the NFL's worst offense.

Their special teams gave up another ridiculous return, this one a 55-yard punt return to set up a field goal by noted Steelers slayer, Joshua Cribbs.

The way it looked, the Steelers played as if they couldn't wait to start their Caribbean vacations. The good news for them is they don't have much longer to wait. There will be no playoffs for them this season. Three more games -- almost certainly three more losses -- and their agony will be over.

As will ours.

This Steelers slide has been as hard to watch as it is to understand. I didn't think it could get worse than the loss to the Chiefs. But it did. I didn't think it could get worse than the loss to the Raiders. But it did.

Well, at least that trend is over.

It can't get worse than losing to the Browns. (Well we have no where to go but up. - mesa)

There just isn't another team in the NFL that is that bad.

This loss was a shame because there still was so much to play for despite those previous four losses. A win in the final four games and the Steelers probably would have made the playoffs. All they had to do to get the first one was beat the Browns.

So much for that.

It almost seemed right that Roethlisberger's fourth-and-6 pass intended for Santonio Holmes with 1:48 to go fell incomplete. The only thing that would have been more appropriate would have been if Roethlisberger had been sacked to end the Steelers' dying gasp. He went down eight times in the game.

Somehow, Big Ben kept getting up.

The Steelers couldn't.

They were down for the count.
Ron Cook can be reached at rcook@post-gazette.com. More articles by this author

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12-11-2009, 08:13 AM
They were down for the count.

Looking back on it, they were down for the count 4 weeks ago when they lost to the bungals a second time. They were given plenty of opportunities to win this game in the second half and they choose not to accept them. Moving the ball and piling up yardage and stats mean nothing if you don't get in the endzone.