By Alan Robinson
The Steelers practiced Tuesday and will practice again Wednesday before taking off until Monday — taking a weekend off, the only one so far since the preseason games began that won’t be a losing one.
Some news and notes for the bye week:
— Le’Veon Bell thinks the way for the Steelers to get turned around is to … change nothing.
“We’re going too keep working. We’re not going to change nothing,” Bell said. “Eventually, things will start going our way. We’ve got to keep chipping away. Nothing is easy in the NFL, so we’ve got to keep chipping away.”
While Bell ran for two touchdowns against the Vikings, but only after he got caught up to the speed of his first regular season game. Before Sunday, his only four carries came in a preseason game Aug. 19.
“The game slowed down for me, especially in the second half,” Bell said. “The first couple of carries it felt fast, real fast, but I got adjusted to it. I calmed down a little bit.
I got more comfortable .”
Bell was most pleased with another aspect of his game that hasn’t been discussed much at all: His blocking.
“Even in the passing game I did a good job of helping the o-linemen with chips, catching the ball out of the backfield,” Bell said. “There’s still a lot of things I can work on, but blocking I did well. It just wasn’t enough.”
— Former NFL coach Tony Dungy said the Steelers’ defense is too old, and it’s showing.
“I’m not sure they can fix this. I don’t know that they have the talent. I think they just have an old defense that does not have playmakers. They don’t have a takeaway in four weeks,” Dungy said on Sunday Night Football on NBC.
After finishing atop the NFL three of the last five seasons, that defense is No. 11 — allowing 321 yards per game, or 45 yards per game more than a year ago.
“We’re spoiled having a dominating defense and, right now, we’re not dominating,” cornerback Ike Taylor said. Safety Ryan Clark called the Steelers’ overall play “embarrassing,” especially for the seven defensive starters who played on the 2008 Super Bowl-winning team.
“As much as guys are humble, there are egos in here,” Clark said. “Guys that are used to winning.”
— For all of the wildly enthusiastic fans who turned out for the Saturday street rally and the Steelers-Vikings game Sunday, the NFL still has some major obstacles to overcome as it tries to establish a foothold in London and Europe. One of them is local media perception that American football simply isn’t that newsworthy. While 83,518 packed Wembley Stadium, The Daily Mail, one of London’s leading newspaper, deemed the game worthy of only a three-paragraph story accompanied by a Le’Veon Bell touchdown leap photo on the 18th sports page of its Monday edition. The first nine pages were devoted to coverage of two-day-old soccer games. The Guardian newspaper devoted a single paragraph.
— Vikings safety Harrison Smith drew a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty for a helmet hit on tight end Heath Miller; afterward, he insisted he was trying to avoid hitting Miller in his surgically repaired right knee. “As a player, as a fan, I know that (Miller was hurt),” Smith said. “I don’t want to hit him in the knee, I want to hit him in a good area. I try to keep my head out of it. I didn’t launch and I don’t really know what to do.” Later in the game, Smith said, “I hit him lower, and I didn’t really want to do it, but I had to. That might have made him mad.”
— Steelers safety Troy Polamalu is being used extensively in run support, and the Vikings knew it. Wide receiver Joe Webb threw a block on Polamalu that created a hole for Adrian Peterson on his 60-yard touchdown run. “He was telling me, `Hey on the 42 lead, Troy the safety is cramming in and he’s shooting right now. So just trust me on being able to pin him in, you can get outside,’ ” Peterson said. “Sure enough, the next time we caught it, it happened exactly (that) way.”
— Polamalu is taking the losing hard; he has never played on a losing-record Steelers team. “It’s a struggle for us,” he said. “I think we all have to reassess ourselves.” But he drew the line at suggestions some players — including younger members of the defense — aren’t working hard enough to win. He said, “Effort will never be the issue for us.”
— Ben Roethlisberger has thrown 92 passes in his last two games, the most he’s thrown in any two-game period of his career. He’s completed 62 for 789 yards. For the season, he is 103 of 162 for 1,231 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions — and five fumbles.
— The Steelers’ schedule isn’t built for a fast turnaround, with three of the next four on the road. They play at the Jets (2-2) on Oct. 13, followed by their only October home game, against the Ravens (2-2) on Oct. 20. After that, they visit the Raiders (1-3) and Patriots (4-0) on successive Sundays. Until dropping their first four, the Steelers had never been even two games below .500 under coach Mike Tomlin.