Reaction to Meltdown Will Test Steelers' Mettle on Sunday

By Snider, Rick | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 4, 1997 | Go to article overview

Reaction to Meltdown Will Test Steelers' Mettle on Sunday


Snider, Rick, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Big Steel played like tin foil, but Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher isn't panicking after the Steelers' worst season-opening loss in eight years.

"I've never experienced a 30-point loss, and hopefully I won't again," Cowher said. "Somebody once said it doesn't matter whether you lose by three or lose by 30. Well, whoever said that obviously never lost by 30. It was embarrassing. . . . But a loss is a loss. You don't dwell on it. You can't lose the confidence in what you're doing and in one another. You don't overreact and push a panic button."

After a 5-0 preseason, Pittsburgh was beaten 37-7 by Dallas on Sunday. The Steelers rank last in the NFL in passing and total offense after the first week. Running back Jerome "The Bus" Bettis was idle by the third quarter with 63 yards. Quarterback Kordell Stewart was sacked three times in his first regular-season start while converting only one of 11 third downs. The defense, with five new starters, allowed 295 yards passing and four touchdowns.

Not exactly the type of effort that inspires a fourth straight AFC Central championship or sixth consecutive playoff berth since Cowher's 1992 arrival.

"It was a game where nobody did anything right," Stewart said. "When you lose a game like that there are a ton of excuses and what should have been done. That game is behind us."

The Steelers desperately want to avoid opening the season 0-2 at home, because their next game, after an open date Sept. 15, is a Monday night affair at Jacksonville, which went to the AFC championship game last season. However, the Redskins aren't worried about the Steelers' added incentive.

"They're just like a wounded dog," safety Stanley Richard said. "You get them trapped in a corner and they'll come out fighting. If we're not prepared, they'll jump on us."

Stewart is finally leading the Steelers after two seasons as "Slash," the multi-purpose offensive force who could pop up anywhere on the field.

"Being called `Slash' was never a problem to me," he said. …

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