After writing last week that I got over the loss to the Bengals very quickly, the opposite is true this week. I feel like I'm wearing a cement necklace. I haven't felt this bad after a loss since the AFC Championship loss in 2005 to the Patriots.
But, life must go on. The Steelers are still in the AFC playoff race and it's important to see how the team responds to this loss. Let's take a look at what they had to say after the game.
“Really it is quite simple; I take responsibility for that performance. I have to have this football team better prepared to play and, ultimately, we have to play better than what we played today in that stadium. We are capable of much more than that. You have to tip your hat to the Chiefs because they played well enough to win, but that is not what we are capable of and that is not us, it won’t be us. It was us today (emphasis mine) and as a guy that stands out front, I accept responsibility for that. We were highly penalized and we turned the ball over in the red area. We gave up big plays and we gave up a kick return. When you do those things, regardless of time of possession, yards or what have you, you open yourself up to defeat and that is what happened in that football game.”
Did you sense that your team was not prepared?
“Actually, I did not, but the execution would indicate the case. That is where I judge the preparedness, ultimately, on how we perform. The performance was below the line so the preparation must have been.”
Our take: Good to see Caoch Tomlin take responsibility for the loss. The team looked unprepared and made critical mistakes. Tomlin noted that we played poorly today and the standard of expectation is much higher. I would expect nothing less from our coach. But, let's hope we're more prepared next week.
RB RASHARD MENDENHALL
Did you feel prepared for today’s game?
“I’m not really sure. I’m still new to all of this and trying to figure it out. I know on offense that we didn’t do enough on our side of the ball to win. You know that to play at this level and be a professional the margin of error, the difference between winning and losing, is so little that you’ve got to be on top of your game. We had a chance at the end of the game to put points on the board and put ourselves in a winning position and we didn’t do it.”
Our take: Nothing eye opening here (other than flat out denying that the team wasn't prepared), but it seems that Rashard is starting to get it. I've become more enamored with him as each game progresses. He's learned the hard way that you can't skip the details and expect to win against anyone in the league. This loss was hardly on Rashard, and it seems like every week we talk about he should have been more involved. 20 carries for 80 yards is not outstanding, but I find it inexcusable to not have him in the game in overtime on 3rd and 2.
"[Tomlin] is our leader and the veteran guys on this team will do what he says," Ward said. "All of us are responsible for this. All of us need to look in the mirror."
"The coaches have to put us in a better position. All of us have to look in the mirror, but we're all in this together; the coaches have to evaluate themselves as much was we do.
Re: the 3rd down play call in overtime
"I guess we thought we could catch them in something. I cracked down on the end, but it didn't work. If you run something else and it doesn't work, maybe it's fourth-and-1 and you give us a chance. But when you lose 3 yards, you have no choice but to punt. The play call is what it is; we have to execute it."
Our take: Hines Ward is one of the leaders of the club, so he's one of the few guys who could get away with criticizing the special teams and criticizing the coaches. But, he walks a fine line, also mentioning that the players need to perform better. You have to think it would take a lot to make Ward publicly criticize the coaches. Maybe I'm seeing what I want to see, but when you take a shot at a play call, that is a direct shot at Bruce Arians. Maybe some of the players disagree with some of Arians play calls. Arians is a lightning rod for criticism, but rarely from his own players. It will be interesting to see how this is handled.
"I guess if they go zero -- and all-out blitz, we might have been able to pop one outside on them. But they didn't."
Our take: Batch trying to rationalize the play call. And not doing a very good job.
Man, special teams haven't helped us very much lately.
Our take: Maybe it's time Harrison gets involved in special teams. Then again, maybe we're not having this discussion if the defense holds the KC offense without a touchdown in the final 6 minutes of the 4th quarter.
"We play like we played today, you deserve to lose. You play like that, that's the outcome. We'll get it corrected, whatever it is. We can still win 12 games, so it don't matter. Twelve will get you in [to the playoffs]."
Our take: I love the positive attitude from Big Snack. But, a loss of this magnitude does matter. Let's just hope it spurs a late season winning streak that gets us back to the playoffs