Morning links: Lowering the bar for Steelers

PITTSBURGH -- Opinion remains strong, both locally and nationally, that the Steelers’ 16-9 loss to the Titans portends a long season in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Joe Starkey paints a dire picture of where the Steelers stand just one game into the season, and he attributes the team’s woes to a combination of bad luck (i.e. injuries) and questionable personnel decisions. Starkey stops short of calling for the Steelers to put the ball in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s hands because of the beating the 10th-year veteran could take behind a shaky line that has to overcome the loss of center Maurkice Pouncey.

SI.com’s Don Banks says the Steelers were one of the biggest underachievers in the first week of the season. The Steelers haven’t been the same since Roethlisberger got hurt last November, and Banks doesn’t see it getting better any time soon. The Steelers, long a model of stability and consistency, simply have too many holes to think they can turn things around quickly.

NFL writers and columnists at CBSSports.com are unanimous in their belief that the Steelers will start 0-2 for the first time under seventh-year coach Mike Tomlin.

Running on empty: Tomlin remains philosophically committed to the running game, but the Steelers’ ground attack remains stuck in neutral after it ranked 26th in the NFL last season. There are no easy fixes either considering the state of the beat-up offensive line and the running backs Tomlin has at his disposal.

Reinforcements, meanwhile, look like they are at least another week away for the struggling offense. Tomlin indicated at his weekly news conference that tight end Heath Miller (knee) and running back Le’Veon Bell (foot) will do more in practice this week, but it doesn’t look like either will be ready to play Monday night in Cincinnati.

Silver lining: To paraphrase Tomlin, not all is bad if the Steelers open the season 0-2. They lost their first two games of 1989 by a combined score of 92-10, but they regrouped to go 9-7 and make the playoffs. A member of that team looks back on that season and how lessons from it can be applied to this year’s Steelers.