Steelers bemoan a `pitiful' outing

Cowher, players are beaten group after falling to 4-7

Ravens Gameday

Ravens 27 Steelers 0

November 27, 2006|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Reporter

Their fans stayed home.

The Pittsburgh Steelers might as well have.

The Steelers haven't won in Baltimore since 2002, but the gold and black usually make their presence known at M&T Bank Stadium, on the field and in the stands.

That wasn't the case yesterday, as fewer Steelers faithful shelled out for tickets in Baltimore. Their team didn't look particularly committed either, as Pittsburgh endured its most lopsided loss since its 1997 season opener.

"That was a pitiful performance today," coach Bill Cowher said. "I accept full responsibility for that."

Cowher has been running the Steelers since 1992. His jutted jaw has come to symbolize Pittsburgh grit, but yesterday his sideline was filled with dejected players, their heads down.

Comebacks in their two previous games had made the Steelers three-point underdogs and revived hopes of a miracle run to the playoffs, but Pittsburgh faces the reality of a 4-7 record. How often is the reigning Super Bowl champion all but mathematically eliminated on Thanksgiving weekend?

About as often as a Cowher team gets bullied the way it was by the Ravens.

Ten months after being the youngest quarterback ever to win the Super Bowl, Ben Roethlisberger was brutalized to the tune of nine sacks, tying the most allowed by the Steelers since the NFL started tracking the stat in 1982.

On the rare occasions he remained upright, Roethlisberger aimed the ball instead of throwing it. Some of his on-target attempts were dropped. Pittsburgh went 24 minutes without a first down and had 172 yards total offense, 200 below its average.

The Steelers also lost their honor on the other side of the ball, on the Ravens' second touchdown drive.

Jamal Lewis pancaked safety Ryan Clark at the end of an 8-yard run. Nose tackle Casey Hampton flopped his arms like a frustrated child after Ovie Mughelli ran for 9 yards. Lewis met little resistance from linebacker James Farrior on a touchdown from the 1.

"That wasn't Steeler football," linebacker Larry Foote said. "I've never been a part of that, teams running on us."

The next three plays showed it was a team effort. Najeh Davenport bungled the kickoff, leaving the Steelers with lousy field position. On second down, Willie Parker failed to pick up a blitzing Bart Scott, who decked Roethlisberger, who said it was "probably the hardest I've ever been hit in my life."

Safety Troy Polamalu left the game with a knee injury.

Hines Ward, resigned to jogging some routes on a problematic left knee that he aggravated, called the day "embarrassing."

Joey Porter had nothing to say, as the normally loquacious linebacker had changed into his camouflage fatigues and left the Steelers' locker room at 4:15 p.m., when it was opened to the media.

The outcome long determined, Cowher refused to pull Roethlisberger. The Steelers followed his lead, and would not concede that they are playing out the string. Come Christmas Eve, when Baltimore plays at Pittsburgh, the Steelers plan for a different outcome.

"The way we played was written all over his face," Parker said of Cowher. "We played terrible, but we do get another shot at these guys."

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