Tomlin says Steelers' approach won't change against Bengals Sunday

The Steelers’ playoff possibilities have slipped drastically after consecutive losses, but that won’t change their approach for the game Sunday night against the Cincinnati Bengals or the rest of the season, coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday.

“We understand the ramifications of what happened, but it really doesn’t change our plan of what we want to do this week — defeat the Cincinnati Bengals,” Tomlin said at his weekly news conference.

The Steelers have lost those consecutive games to the two teams who are in front of them for the second wild-card playoff spot in the AFC — Baltimore and Miami — effectively, but not mathematically, ending their chances of making the postseason.

Tomlin talks about Miami loss, looks ahead to Cincy

Mike Tomlin used his news conference today to revisit the loss to the Dolphins and look ahead to Sunday night's game against the Bengals. Ed Bouchette adds context and an update on the team's injuries. (Video by Andrew Rush; 12/10/2013)

The Steelers play the AFC North-leading Bengals (9-4) in a nationally televised game Sunday night at Heinz Field. The Bengals have won their past two meetings with the Steelers, including a 20-10 victory in Week 2 in Cincinnati.

“We’ve lost two close games in the last two weeks to teams in the same state as us — fighting for survival,” Tomlin said. “We came up short, but it doesn’t change our approach.”

Tomlin pointed out that the number of “splash” plays allowed by the defense has been a recurring problem all season.

The Steelers have allowed a league-high 11 plays of 50 yards or longer, including seven passes. The Dolphins had a 55-yard run by Daniel Thomas that set up the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.

“The reality is, 50-yard plays eliminate a lot of execution,” Tomlin said. “We’ve had quite a few that eliminated a lot of execution opportunities. If they were centrally located, those things are easily solved. But, when you look at it, it’s like popcorn — it’s a myriad of schematic things, a myriad of personnel things.”

On other subjects:

• Tomlin said he thought the lateral from Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown on the final play was backward, not forward, after watching film.

• He said he had no problem with Troy Polamalu returning a missed field goal at the end of the first half, even though the Steelers would have had the ball at the Miami 42 if he had not.

• Asked about another critical drop by wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who dropped a third-down pass on the next-to-last series that forced the Steelers to go for it on fourth-and-10 from their 10, Tomlin said, “He’s made some plays, he’s missed some plays like everybody. He didn’t make a play in that circumstance. There’s been other circumstances when he did make plays.”

• On the injury front, Tomlin said left tackle Kelvin Beachum and defensive end Brett Keisel, who did not play in the 34-28 loss against the Dolphins, could return against the Bengals. Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who leads the team with nine touchdown catches, has a shoulder contusion but should be able to play.

• The Steelers released former Pitt halfback Ray Graham from their practice squad and signed defensive end Hall Davis.

Gerry Dulac:; twitter: @gerrydulac First Published December 10, 2013 1:10 PM

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