Steelers still grasping for answers

PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers rallied from an early 21-point deficit Sunday night to pull within four points of the Bears early in the fourth quarter. And they may well have pulled off a comeback for the ages at Heinz Field had Jay Cutler not been so masterful when the Bears needed him most.

Cutler led a nine-play, 74-yard touchdown drive that ultimately threw more dirt on the Steelers’ gasping season and left the players yet again feeling like a window had slammed on their fingers.

That combination of anger and numbness coursed through the Steelers’ locker room following a 40-23 loss that, oddly enough, didn’t reflect how close the game was but accurately portrayed how much better the Bears are than the team that is now 0-3 and forced to travel across the Atlantic Ocean in its quest for answers.

“It’s a deep hole and it’s getting deeper,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said after throwing for 406 yards but also committing four turnovers. “I’m not going to quit.”

His teammates said the same thing, and such proclamations give the Steelers’ locker room the feel of “Groundhog Day.”

The players have talked about sticking together and fighting through the Steelers’ worst start since 2000.

Together, of course.

Steelers fans would probably roll their eyes at such talk, tiresome as it has already become, if they weren’t so incensed by what they have seen in the first three games of the season.

The Steelers have a turnover problem -- on both sides of the ball -- and the offense can’t pick up the defense and vice versa.

And that’s just a short list of problems for a team that has to travel to London to play the 0-3 Vikings next Sunday.

“We feel like our fans deserve a lot better than what we’ve been giving them,” right tackle Marcus Gilbert said.

That would be an understatement, and the Steelers are another loss or two away from being forced to play out the string -- something that would be embarrassing for a franchise that has won a record six Super Bowls.

The Steelers thought slipping to 8-8 in 2012 was bad.

They have to go 8-5 the rest of this season to equal that mark.

And even that would be far from acceptable.

“Our job isn’t to play football,” free safety Ryan Clark said. “Our job is to win football games.”