Mike Tomlin is only too aware of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ numbing 2-5 start.
To wallow in it wouldn’t do anybody any good.
“Our record is our record,” Tomlin said. “There’s nothing that we can do about what has been played.”
Maybe, but the Steelers have to do something — anything really — if they want to try and turn things around.
The usual things have not worked. Tomlin tinkered with the lineup after a winless September. He barred shuffleboard, pool and ping pong in the locker room, too.
Victories over Baltimore and the New York Jets followed. They proved to be a temporary salve.
The bottom fell out in a 21-18 loss to Oakland on Sunday with no area of the team above reproach, including a punter who now finds himself out of a job.
The Steelers cut Zoltan Mesko on Tuesday after weeks of inconsistency that manifested itself in a partially blocked punt in the first quarter that helped stake the Raiders to an early 18-point lead.
Mesko bobbled the snap from Greg Warren and wasn’t helped by a missed block that allowed Oakland’s Rick Jennings slip through and get his hands on it. Tomlin refused to place blame in one spot, figuring there was enough to go around.
“Obviously it takes two to tango in that circumstance and the bobble created an out time that wasn’t ideal and obviously the pressure was the pressure,” Tomlin said. “It’s tough to analyze which was more significant. Obviously, together, it was catastrophic.”
Pittsburgh signed Mat McBriar to replace Mesko before Sunday’s game at New England (6-2), though it’s hardly the kind of move likely to shake the roster out of its funk.
The Steelers’ problems extend far beyond the kicking game, including an inability to get things early.
They have been outscored 54-19 in the first quarter this season and 84-54 in the first half.
Tomlin, curiously, doesn’t see the lopsided numbers as any major cause for concern. Though he allowed “it’s important to start the game off with rhythm” he doesn’t want to get too caught up in the notion things are over one way or the other after the first 15 minutes.
“The starts of games don’t determine the outcomes of games,” he said. “We need to keep that in mind as we prepare, too. I don’t want to get lulled into a sense of comfort if we should go up to New England and come out and have a successful start. We’ve got to play football for 60 minutes and winning football.”
Something the Steelers have done only once. They controlled a 19-16 win over Baltimore two weeks ago, the kind of performance that seemed to hint they were starting to figure things out.
They haven’t. The offense expected to click in its second year under coordinator Todd Haley has been unable to find anything close to consistency.
The Steelers are tied for 27th in the league in scoring, averaging 17.9 points per game. The four teams ranked below Pittsburgh are a combined 4-26.
While Pittsburgh place-kicker Shaun Suisham has been steady, he’s also not perfect. He shanked a pair of chip shots against the Raiders — his first two misses of the season — that could have made a significant impact on the outcome. The bigger issue, Tomlin said, is the fact Suisham is needed so much in the first place.
The Steelers have scored touchdowns on just 40 percent of their trips inside the opponents’ 20.
Only Philadelphia and Jacksonville have been worse at cashing in.
Even as Pittsburgh tried to mount a late rally, they shied away from the end zone. Only two of Roethlisberger’s 45 passing attempts against Oakland were intended for players who were already across the goal line.
A constantly jumbled offensive line hasn’t helped. Roethlisberger has spent so much time under duress, there haven’t been many opportunities where he’s had enough time for his players to get downfield.
There was a bit of good news on Tuesday. Starting guards Ramon Foster (concussion) and David DeCastro (right ankle), who both left early in Oakland, may play against the Patriots. Foster has been cleared to practice while DeCastro will be limited early in the week before being evaluated.
Mike Tomlin is only too aware of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ numbing 2-5 start.
Breese closes career with second straight title
Sam Breese now knows how it feels to be perfect.
Breese finished with an undefeated season record of 35-0, with win No. 35 being the sweetest one of all.
The Lakeview senior stared into the face of the pressure that comes with defending a title, and made the Giant Center in Hershey feel like home. Undeniable talent and an incredible determination are the hallmarks of Breese’s approach to wrestling, and for the second straight year, he can call himself a champion.
McLane’s Wheeling comes up short in final
On a night when six wrestlers repeated as PIAA Class AAA champions, Chance Marsteller and Thomas Haines stole the show.
Marsteller, of Kennard-Dale, and Haines, of Solanco, became the 11th and 12th four-time gold-medal winners in Pennsylvania history. Marsteller (166-0) also is the first four-time champion to complete his career without a loss since Cary Kolat (1989-92) and the fourth overall.
Serra outlasts Cardinals
For the second time in as many days a basketball team from Cochranton High School played a private school from the WPIAL, put forth a valiant fight, but ultimately had its heart broken.
On Friday, it was the Cochranton boys team, which fell to Vincentian Academy 95-85.
Breese lone local to reach Class AA finals
A busy and entertaining Day 2 of wrestling at the PIAA Individual Wrestling Championships in Hershey came and went, as did the dreams of a gold medal for a handful of local wrestlers.
The one local wrestler that doesn’t apply to is Lakeview’s Sam Breese, who had the Giant Center crowd in aw during his two matches Friday. The two bouts equated to two wins, which means a shot a defending his championship.
Lee, Wheeling survive Day 2 in Hershey
Ehrin Lee’s smile following his quarterfinal win Friday at the PIAA Individual Wrestling Championships told the whole story.
Lee has had his eyes on the state championships all season long, and just getting there wasn’t enough. The Titusville 160-pounder has wrestled like one of the best grapplers in the state during the tournament thus far, and his 3-2 overtime win over Northampton’s Bobby Fehr proved that if nothing else, he’s one of the four best wrestlers in his weight class.
Cards can’t slow Vincentian
The starters on the Cochranton boys basketball team probably slept like logs on Friday night.
They left every ounce on the hardwood of Meadville High School’s House of Thrills, going up against the high-intensity attack of Vincentian Academy in the opening round of the PIAA Class A playoffs.
McLane rolls past Neshannock
Sarah Jay has made a habit of presenting her players with in depth scouting reports prior to each and every game.
But the report she handed them on Neshannock, the Lady Lancers’ first round opponent in the PIAA Class AA playoffs, was nothing like they had seen before.
Class AA first round filled with highs, lows for locals
It was a day full of highs and lows for the 11 local Class AA wrestlers on the opening day of the PIAA Individual Wrestling Championships in Hershey.
For some, it was business as usual, and for others, the atmosphere of a crowded Giant Center proved to be a little much. By the time the preliminary and Round 1 consolation rounds were finished, eight wrestlers are still alive, with state wrestling experience proving to be invaluable Thursday morning.
Lee, Wheeling stay in hunt for Class AAA state title
A win is a win, and when it comes to the PIAA Individual Wrestling Championships, as long as your score reads higher in the end, it really doesn’t matter how you get there.
During the preliminary round of the tournament Thursday afternoon at the Giant Center in Hershey, the six local qualifiers certainly had mixed results, but in the end, two wrestlers are still in the championship bracket, exactly where they want to be.
Cards look to slow down Vincentian
“The best way to sum it up is,” said Cochranton head coach Scott McCurdy, “it’s like they’re down five and there are 30 seconds to go. Only, they play like that for the entire 32 minutes.”
McCurdy is talking about the Vincentian Academy boys basketball team, which employs a style that’s ... well ... calling it up-tempo just doesn’t seem to suffice.
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