Steelers notebook: Mendenhall critical of Pittsburgh fans in Tennessee
By Alan Robinson
Published: Friday, October 12, 2012
Steelers fans filled about one-third of LP Field in Tennessee, but that didn’t prevent running back Rashard Mendenhall from posting a Twitter message Friday complaining about fair-weather fans.
“Seriously, if you’re going to talk trash about your team and everyone on it, don’t call yourself a fan,” he tweeted. “A fan is a supporter ...”
Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck noticed the outpouring of Steelers fans during their 26-23 upset victory Thursday, saying, “It was pretty crazy. It must be a Steeler convention in town.”
• Tight end Weslye Saunders, who sat out the first four games after being suspended for violating the NFL drug policy, was released Friday. The Steelers chose to keep rookie David Paulson and veteran Leonard Pope rather than Saunders, who had a touchdown among his four receptions last season.
• Safeties Ryan Clark and Ryan Mundy weren’t fined for their hits Sunday against the Eagles. Clark’s late hit on tight end Brent Celek and Mundy’s helmet hit on Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin a few plays later were penalized. Mundy was fined $21,000 earlier this season for a helmet hit that left Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey with a concussion.
• Coach Mike Tomlin’s decision to allow Shaun Suisham to attempt a career-long 54-yard field goal that fell short gave the Titans the ball at their 45-yard line with 49 seconds remaining, enough time for them to run four plays in advance of Rob Bironas’ winning field goal. Tomlin defended the decision to not go for it on fourth-and-7 at the 36. “He banged the previous one (a 52-yarder) pretty good,” Tomlin said. “We decided to give him a shot.”
• Titans linebacker Tim Shaw spotted a weakness in the Steelers’ punt protection unit, then took advantage of it to block a Drew Butler punt and create a touchdown. Shaw also blocked a punt against the Steelers last season. This time, Mundy failed to block Shaw as he charged up the middle. “I was ready for the snap, went as hard as I could, and they messed up and didn’t block,” Shaw said. “We had practiced that all week and had seen it on tape.”
• The Steelers have been 2-3 only five times since 1990, most recently when they started 2-6 in 2006, a season after winning the Super Bowl. They also were 2-3 in 2003, ’02, ’00 and 1999; the only time they made the playoffs was 2002.
• Cornerback Keenan Lewis was upset about dropping an interception during Tennessee’s tying touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. “Obviously he needs to make those,” receiver Mike Wallace said. “It was at a crucial time … but that didn’t make us lose,” linebacker Larry Foote said.
• Tennessee might not have converted on that decisive final drive had tight end Jared Cook not gotten free on a 25-yard catch to the Steelers’25 on third-and-5. Cook ran down the line of scrimmage undefended following the snap. Foote called it a mental breakdown that can’t happen, while Titans coach Mike Munchak said his offense took advantage of a heavy blitz. “They blitz a lot, and when I say blitz, they are bringing in their linebackers, and sometimes you get some favorable coverage,” Munchak said. “Obviously that was a turning point to win a game.”
• The last time the Steelers lost their first three road games was 2006, when they dropped their first four and ended 2-6 on the road.