Steelers quarterback Ben Roethilsberger passes downfield during workouts at Twyford Avenue Sports Grounds, located in the Acton district of West London. Sunday, the Steelers will take on the Minnesota Vikings at Wembley Stadium.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethilsberger drops back to pass during workouts at Twyford Avenue Sports Grounds, located in the Acton district of West London. Sunday, the Steelers will take on the Minnesota Vikings at Wembley Stadium.
By Ed Bouchette Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
LONDON -- It seems a long way, but at this point the Steelers would go to the ends of the earth to find a victory.
"We just need one,'' Ike Taylor said. "That's all we need, we're searching for one."
After failing to find that one in their first three games, the Steelers have reached a fork in the hedgerows. Another loss Sunday when they play the equally winless Minnesota Vikings at 90,000-seat Wembley Stadium could spin their season out of control. A victory with an off week to follow would at least put things back on track for them for the next two weeks with a game to follow at the New York Jets, and then home to the Baltimore Ravens. That game at Heinz Field against the Super Bowl champs still could be meaningful, but only if they win in England on Sunday.
Steelers Report: The team is in London, ready for Vikings
Steelers beat writers Ed Bouchette and Gerry Dulac talk about the Steelers' game against the Vikings Sunday at Wembley Stadium, London. (Video by Peter Diana; 9/27/2013)
Go 0-4, and the roof collapses. If the Steelers believed they had a fractured locker room last season, they might not want to see the tremors if they match their longest losing streak to open a season in 45 years.
"It is a big game for us; 0-3, the odds are not too good for the near future,'' Taylor said. "That's just how it is. But we dug ourselves a hole, we have to dig ourselves out.
"We don't even know how winning feels right now. We have to get at least a win."
The Steelers arrived here Friday morning after an overnight flight. Mike Tomlin and a handful of players were whisked to a lunchtime press conference, then it was off to meetings and a late afternoon practice before they called it a long day.
Unlike the Vikings, who left for London Monday, the Steelers did most of their work back home because, as Tomlin said, "We were searching for and found normalcy."
Now they are searching for, and hope to find, a victory.
"Obviously, we have yet to win a football game,'' Tomlin told a banquet room full of press from the U.S. and U.K. "There's a certain amount of urgency that comes with that, an appropriate urgency, but nothing out of the ordinary."
This, though, is out of the ordinary for the Steelers. None of them has gone through this as a professional since the last time they were 0-3, in 2000.
"I don't know if I want to say this,'' Taylor said, "but I'm going to say it: It's a playoff kind of game. You have two 0-3 teams, you have a lot on the line right now. We better be ready and match Minnesota's intensity because you best believe they're coming with it.''
Seasons can turn one way or the other on a single game, and while the Steelers face long odds of becoming only the fourth team in 23 seasons to reach the playoffs after losing their first three, they still think they can.
"Maybe it just takes one win to kind of get you going, and that's our hope," Ben Roethlisberger said. "Our hope is to get one and see where it goes from there."
The reason the Steelers signed Antonio Brown to that six-year, $43 million contract in 2012 was evident last week against the Chicago Bears when he caught nine passes for a career-high 196 yards and two touchdowns, one a spectacular one-handed catch in the back of the end zone.
The Steelers' No. 1 receiver now is their No. 1 receiver, with a team-high 20 catches for 324 yards and a Mike Wallace-like 16.2-yard average.
But can he keep it up?
"He had a great game,'' Roethlisberger said. "He is going to have has to understand that people are going to watch him more. He may not have 190-whatever yards it was and all that. He has to let it come to him. Maybe he gets 80 yards in the fourth quarter, whatever. He has to make sure he stays patient, stays humble and keeps working hard."
The last time a Steelers receiver followed a game of 150-yards or more with another occurred 50 years ago. Buddy Dial did it in consecutive games in October 1963 against Washington and Dallas.
Starting with his team MVP season of 2011, Brown ranks eighth in the NFL with 74.8 percent of his receptions accounting for first downs, among those with at least 100 catches.
Stop Adrian Peterson. It's the top priority of a Steelers' defense that ranks just 22nd against the run, and nobody ran for more yards in the NFL last season than Peterson. He nearly ran more than anybody in the history of the game with 2,097 yards, eight short of Eric Dickerson's all-time record of 2,105.
"He's a great player,'' Tomlin said. "You work to minimize his impact on the game. He's going to impact the game. He's that type of football player. I imagine he's been an impact in every game he's played since he was a kid."
Rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones says he knows it, but he also looks forward to it.
"I've seen him run some big cats over, I've seen him run cornerbacks over,'' Jones said. "When you stick your nose in there going against A.P. you have to come with it because he is.
"You can't just grab cloth and grab him to the ground, you have to hit him and run your feet. He's one of those backs who keeps driving. He tries to finish every play."
After a week watching Le'Veon Bell practice, Roethlisberger has changed his tune about the rookie halfback.
"He's looked good, he's looked really good,'' Roethlisberger said. "Everything I've seen looks really good in both the pass game and the run game. I expect big things. I'm kind of excited to see what he's going to bring to the table for us."
On Tuesday, the quarterback said about Bell on his 93.7 The Fan radio show, "Honestly, I have no idea with him. You can't get a read on him. One day he's practicing, one day he's not; one day he's going hard, the next day he's not."
For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette on the Steelers at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Ed Bouchette: email@example.com and Twitter @EdBouchette.