By Scott Brown
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
In the hand-wringing that followed the Steelers' 28-20 loss Sunday, fans probably didn't talk much about what happened after the two fourth-quarter turnovers that all but gift-wrapped a victory for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Hines Ward, however, saw some encouraging things that the veteran wide receiver said bode well for the Steelers' offense in the coming weeks.
"We did a great job coming back and giving ourselves an opportunity to try to win that game at the end," Ward said. "The passing game's coming along."
A passing game that has been shaky in two consecutive losses figures to get plenty of work before the Steelers travel to San Diego for an Oct. 8 game.
The Steelers return to practice today at their South Side facility, and the first order of business will be putting the disheartening loss to the Bengals behind them.
Working out kinks in the passing game figures to be a close second.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's quarterback rating is a sickly 34.3, and third-down back Verron Haynes leads the team in receptions with 10.
Heath Miller is the only Steelers player with more than 100 yards receiving, and 87 of the tight end's 146 yards came on a touchdown catch-and-run against Miami in the season opener.
"The passing game usually takes a little more time because we're such a run-oriented team," said Ward, who has nine receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown.
The passing game has not been helped by the hamstring problem that hampered Ward for much of training camp and Roethlisberger's well-documented medical woes.
He had a near-fatal motorcycle accident in the offseason and underwent an emergency appendectomy less than a week before the season opener.
Since returning to the starting lineup against Jacksonville, Roethlisberger has completed less than 50 percent of his passes (49.3) and thrown five interceptions with no touchdowns.
"I'm working into it," Roethlisberger said after Sunday's game when asked if he still felt rusty. "I feel that even though it wasn't a great game, I felt like (it) was a big step for me. I felt like we were really clicking on offense with the receivers."