Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers are somewhere they haven’t ever been either together or separately.
The 0-2 start of the Steelers is a first for Roethlisberger, drafted in 2004. Tomlin succeeded Bill Cowher in 2007 and never started worse than 1-1 before this season. More ominous perhaps for Steelers fortunes, Tomlin never won fewer games in a season than nine before last year’s 8-8 finish.
The Steelers overall have never started 0-3 since 2000, and they missed the playoffs that season.
“I've never started a season like this since I've been in Pittsburgh,” Roethlisberger said. "It's a challenge for us, and one we're not gonna back down from.”
But some shred of desperation may be building, or perhaps should be. The Steelers were 0-4 in preseason and lost three of their last four in 2012. So their only victory in the last 10 games was over a Cleveland Browns team playing out the string of a 5-11 season.
The problems have been building. Only the Green Bay Packers (37 points) scored fewer than the Steelers’ 56 in the preseason. And while the preseason may count for nothing, it was a foreshadowing in Pittsburgh’s case. Only woeful Jacksonville (11) and Cleveland (16) have scored fewer than the Steelers’ 19 to this point of the regular season. All three teams are predictably 0-2.
Tomlin was not prepared to acknowledge desperation.
“The initial response is one of frustration, which is very natural, but that doesn’t solve the issue or get us anywhere,” he said. “We’re back to business today and about the business of preparing and putting together a good plan and working and trying to grow individually and collectively in preparation for this opportunity.”
Said Roethlisberger: “I think winning pulls a lot of, helps cure a lot of issues. That's what we need to try and do is get a win.”
Maybe the misery ends well for the Steelers. The only losing season Pittsburgh has had since 1999 was the 6-10 2003 season, which earned them the 11th-overall pick in the 2004 draft.
Which was Roethlisberger.