Tuesday, October 31, 2006
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Defensive end Aaron Smith, as frustrated as any Steelers fan, groped for a solution Sunday moments after his team slinked to its lowest point of the season at 2-5.
"We have to change something," he said. "Something's got to change."
They will change into their home black uniforms Sunday against Denver; that is a start for a team winless in four games on the road this season. Heinz Field will never look so good to them. But, as they proved in a debacle against Cincinnati in the season's third game, they can throw victories away at home just as easily as they can on the road.
The only change coach Bill Cowher is likely to be interested in is better play from a team that in three of its five games has dominated its foes on offense and defense only to lose because of turnovers or bad special teams performances.
"We play well and we just don't win the game," said receiver Cedrick Wilson. "It's real tough. Hopefully, we can get it together. We still have a long season ahead of us. We're not out until they say we are, and they haven't said so."
Yet the Steelers are on their way to perhaps the biggest Super Bowl hangover yet. Their 2-5 start ties for the second-worst record after seven games by a defending Super Bowl champion in the game's 40 years. Only the 1-6 start by the 1987 New York Giants was worse. Those Giants, though, played in a strike season in which three early games were played by replacement players. The Giants of '87, who finished 6-9, get an asterisk.
If the Steelers don't win soon, they could go down as the biggest loser for a defending Super Bowl champion.
The other Super Bowl teams that started like the Steelers 2-5 finished this way: the '81 Raiders 7-9, the '82 49ers 3-6 (another strike season), and the '99 Broncos 6-10.
At 7-5 last season, the Steelers' playoff hopes were in critical condition. At 2-5, it might not be worth even talking about. They would have to win nine in a row to equal their 11-5 record of 2005, go 8-1 to finish 10-6 and have a reasonable shot at making the playoffs, or 7-2 and hope that 9-7 squeezes them in.
"We just have to get some wins," said linebacker Clark Haggans. "We need to get them in a hurry, too."