The defense had its own issues.
Cornerback Ike Taylor was victimized by Hasselbeck all game long and picked up a pair of pass interference penalties in addition to getting beat repeatedly by Tennessee wide receiver Kenny Britt, including for the game-tying touchdown with 4:19 to play. The defensive front seven failed to get pressure on Hasselbeck on the final drive and surrendered a 25-yard pass to tight end Jared Cook that put the Titans in position to win it.
While safety Ryan Clark understands why Roethlisberger would try to bear the brunt of the blame, Clark would rather put it on the defense. The Steelers are averaging 24.3 points in their three road games.
Most years, that's more than enough for Pittsburgh's defense.
Not this year.
"They're going to say it's a team game and they should have made one more play, but it's not true," Clark said. "They gave us enough points to win, they made enough plays to win the game. We had the lead in the fourth quarter, we need to keep it and we didn't do it."
The Steelers have 10 days to get ready for Cincinnati. They'll eagerly accept the rest and hope some of the injuries clear up. Woodley, who sat out with a hamstring injury, will likely be back. He may be one of the few, however.
Pouncey has dealt with ankle injuries in each of his first two seasons and watched his right leg bend awkwardly after getting rolled into by Gilbert in the first half. He spent the rest of the game on the bench with the leg immobilized. Mendenhall left early with an Achilles injury that doesn't appear to be related to the torn ACL in his right knee that sidelined him for nine months. Redman was in the midst of a standout game before an ankle injury sent him limping off.
The Steelers, however, don't do excuses. The standard is the standard regardless of who's in the game.
Still, even the ever-optimistic Starks allows the Steelers have no more wiggle room.
"I have been here through a lot worse situations at more critical points during the season," he said. "It's still early and I think that's one of the biggest things that we have on our side is that there is still some time and we have to be vigilant."
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