CLEVELAND -- The Pittsburgh Steelers rarely have multi-game losing streaks, but they are coming to Cleveland anxious to break a four-game slide that has them in second place in the AFC North Division with six games to play in the regular season.
After starting the season 4-1, the Steelers have dropped four straight games, including a seven-point loss to the Baltimore Ravens on November 6, as well as lopsided setbacks to the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins in back-to-back weeks in late October.
“The mood is different depending on who you talk to or when you think about it,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “There is disappointment in what has transpired. There is anger and so forth and natural human emotions, but we have been focused not on how we feel emotionally but what it is we need to do today to rectify that.
“We have been talking less about emotion and are talking about having good solid days and preparing for our next opportunity because what has transpired, there is nothing we can do about it at this point. We are what our record says we are.”
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger added, “It has been frustrating for the tradition that we have here and myself personally being here as long as I have been, going to three Super Bowls and winning two of them and things like that. When you get to the playoffs and you only get one win in the last few years, it is definitely frustrating, but we just have to play for the here and now.”
Although the Steelers are 4-5 and one game and the tiebreaker behind the Ravens in the AFC North standings, they have four divisional contests remaining over the final six games of the season, which offers some consolation to the frustration built up during the losing streak.
Winning the majority of those games against the Cleveland Browns, Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals would put the Steelers in line for another postseason trip.
“That does help,” Roethlisberger said. “We are still holding onto that rope. That is still the silver lining thing. There is still frustration, but we are moving on. We have to. That is something we are able to have around here.
“We have good leaders in myself and other guys around here that are capable of telling guys and showing guys what it takes to move on, to move past the loss or losing streak. This is AFC North football. It is the Browns and we are bussing over. It is an exciting week for us.”
While the Steelers are facing an uncertain future regarding the playoffs, their final two AFC North games will be at Heinz Field, first against the Ravens on Christmas Day and then, against the Browns on New Year’s Day.
Plus, the Steelers have the added bonus of Roethlisberger being healthy and in the middle of another productive season, as the veteran quarterback as completed 205 of his 317 attempts for 2,357 yards and 20 touchdowns against just seven interceptions.
“He is a competitor,” Tomlin said of Roethlisberger. “I think if you had to define him in one word, it would be that. He plays and plays to win.
“That is what competitors do. They find things to drive them. It may be a big thing. It may be seemingly a small thing, but they do what it is they need to do to get themselves in the frame of mind to prepare and then, ultimately play, and I am sure that is an element of it.”