9/19/2006 4:10:08 PM
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher is not ready to panic after his team's listless performance in a 9-0 loss to Jacksonville.
Despite losing a meaningful game for the first time in 10 outings, Cowher said it was too early to get alarmed about the defending Super Bowl champions or any player.
"I'm not ready to assess people's play after one game or two games," Cowher said Tuesday, about 12 hours after his team was shut out for the first time in almost three years. "Let's let this thing play out four or five games to find some tendencies that take place that you might have to address or you might have to expand on."
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was among those who did not look sharp. Roethlisberger was making his first appearance of the season after a tumultuous few months. He was in a serious motorcycle accident June 12 and, seemingly fully recovered from the resulting facial surgery, underwent an emergency appendectomy Sept. 3.
Roethlisberger had flu-like symptoms during the game that were unrelated to the appendectomy. Cowher said reports that his quarterback had a 104-degree fever were erroneous and that, in fact, Roethlisberger's temperature was 100.4. Roethlisberger completed 17 of 32 passes for 141 yards and threw two interceptions.
"When you go from pre-season to regular season, everybody's going through that period of acclimation to the speed of the game," Cowher said. "The speed does go up going into the regular season, but it does for the other team, as well. But when you come into it the second week of the season and (the opponent) already has been through that first week of acclimation, it's tough."
Pittsburgh produced only 152 yards of offense and advanced past midfield only once - to the Jaguars 46. But the Steelers' 26 yards on the ground was more of a culprit, and Cowher said he never considered inserting backup quarterback Charlie Batch, who played well the previous week in a win over Miami.
Cowher noted that Roethlisberger and top receiver Hines Ward had not even practised together for more than a month until last week. Ward sat out much of training camp with a hamstring injury.
"There's no substitute for playing time," Cowher said. "And we have (now) gotten Ben that."
Cowher said the team sustained no major injuries or aggravations of previous injuries Monday, but All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu's shoulder injury visibly impeded him during the game. Cowher said he would know more Wednesday about Polamalu's status for Sunday's showdown with division rival Cincinnati.
The Bengals rank fourth in the league in scoring and ninth in total offense, so it is clear the Steelers' offence will have to produce Sunday.
"The most important thing is, as I told the players last night, is not to dwell on it," Cowher said. "It would serve no purpose. We've got to learn from it, but the biggest thing is to get our minds focused when we come in here tomorrow on a divisional opponent, the defending division champs. Stay focused on that and be ready to move on."