The end of the decade and another successful era for the Pittsburgh Steelers is near as they enter their final three games of the season searching for a new beginning.
The 2009 season, the one in which they vowed to prove their previous Super Bowl hangover would not affect them, has turned disastrous. They have lost five straight games, including three to some of the worst NFL teams, the Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders and now Cleveland Browns.
"It's a wrap," nose tackle Casey Hampton said after they bottomed out in Cleveland by losing 13-6 to the Browns, who won their second game. It ended a 12-game winning streak against Cleveland and virtually any chance they had of squeaking into the playoffs.
They had talked gamely of winning their final four and going the route they did in 2005, when they made it as a sixth seed and won a Super Bowl. Now they are looking at an aged defense that no longer has the wherewithal to even stop the Cleveland Browns running game, which gouged them for 171 yards Thursday night.
"To lose five straight coming off a Super Bowl from last year, it's embarrassing for me," said Hines Ward. "It just hurts, it hurts a lot. There's nothing fun about losing games, especially five in a row. We're better than that, we should play better than that."
Pittsburgh won two Super Bowls in four years but each one was followed by bitter disappointment. They went 8-8 in 2006 and coach Bill Cowher quit after that season. They are 6-7 today with no end to the losing in sight and promises of changes both in the personnel and coaching staff of Mike Tomlin before the next season.
Copyright (C) 2009 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.