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Pittsburgh Steelers

Stadium: Heinz Field | Coach: Mike Tomlin
Team RankingOverallRushingPassing
Offense2nd114.9 (13th)300.5 (2nd)
Defense20th99.3 (6th)255.2 (27th)

Steelers report: Inside slant

The Sports Xchange
 
Inside slant · Notes, quotes · Strategy and personnel
 

Pittsburgh, which won six of its first eight games this season after winning a Super Bowl, is desperate to win one as the losses and criticism pile up on the Steelers.

Even one of their most admired former teammates has taken potshots at them.

"The Steelers are done," Jerome Bettis said on a national radio show this week. "When you lose your spirit, then everything is pretty much gone. And that's what I saw when they hit the field against the Cleveland Browns. When you don't have the enthusiasm to get up for a game in which you have to win, then it tells me that the leadership isn't there."

This comes on the heels of safety Ryan Clark lashing out at the Pittsburgh media and Steelers fans, and after Hines Ward questioned quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's intent when he was held out of their Nov. 29 game in Baltimore because of headaches after a concussion.

Roethlisberger said then that Ward's comments "hurt" and Thursday he had words for his former teammate, Bettis.

"Jerome who?" Roethlisberger wondered. "I guess he's entitled to his opinion. He's not on this team, he's not in this locker room. So he's just taking an outside view as all of you guys are. If you don't know I don't think you should speak on it."

Their five-game losing streak, however, has been the talk of Pittsburgh and across the football world as they try to avoid tying their longest losing streak in 40 years when they play Green Bay, winners of five straight, Sunday in Heinz Field.

"Beat anybody," nose tackle Casey Hampton declared. "You don't give a damn who you beat at this point. Just getting back on track, something to get you out of the funk, getting us out of this mentality of losing games."

--The frustration in the Pittsburgh locker room continues to grow, as does the Steelers' losing streak, which has reached five games and frozen their playoff hopes at slim.

Coach Mike Tomlin delivered an angry talk to his players on Monday, and then safety Ryan Clark, a prominent spokesman in the locker room, ripped Steelers fans and the media that covers the team.

"You get hate mail from fans, they tell you that you suck and all that. And that's fine, because there's a reason they watch the game," Clark said.

"This year, increasingly, it's made me realize that you have to play for your organization, you have to play for your teammates, you have to play for yourself, for your family, because the people on the outside don't understand the frustration you go through.

"They don't understand the work you put into it every day. A lot of people think we come in here and practice a couple of hours and then go out on Sunday and go play the game. That's not how it is."

Clark posted on the bulletin board in the locker room one letter he received from a fan that was critical of the defense. He told the media to go read it, but a Steelers public relations man removed it before anyone saw it.

"I had a bunch, but that was the best one," Clark said of the letter.

"I'm not upset with the guy. I don't want to go to his house or fight him. That's his opinion and that's how he feels. I don't know what he does for a living. Whether he's an accountant ... I can't go talk to him about how he crunches numbers. I can't go talk to him about how he teaches his class and things like that."

Clark then turned his ire toward the local media, accusing them of wrongly criticizing individual players for errors they did not make.

"You watch the Eagles, you watch the big plays. You watch things given up. And I started checking other media outlets. You don't hear the things about them in their media that you hear about us," Clark said. "So either we're held to a higher standard or the people that write about us are turds."

The Steelers had the NFL's No. 1 defense last season -- first against the pass, second against the run. They are fourth this season -- 13th against the pass, first against the run.

"We're still the fourth-ranked defense in the NFL," Clark said. "And I think it's becoming increasingly more evident that we are held to a different standard, which is OK ..."

Clark said he refuses to bring the frustration home with him.

"The one thing I'm not going to do, I'm not going to be depressed. I'm not going to go home and beat my wife, you know what I mean?" he said. "I'm going to get on my knees every night and pray and thank God for the blessings I have every night."

SERIES HISTORY
32nd regular-season meeting of a series that began in 1933. Packers lead 18-13, including a 9-6 edge in Pittsburgh, although they have not won there since 1970 (three games). The teams last met in 2005 in Green Bay, a game won by the Steelers, who have won two in a row and six of the past eight. The Packers last played in Pittsburgh in 1998, a game won by the Steelers 27-20. This will be Green Bay's first official visit to Heinz Field, although the Packers played there in the preseason.

Copyright (C) 2009 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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