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After further review: Required response

Now what?

It was as pertinent a question as any in the wake of Bengals 24, Steelers 10. In the wake of penalties and dropped passes and a missed field goal and more injuries and another deep ball that got over the Steelers' heads and into the end zone.

There was also a last gasp that never really had a chance, in part, head coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged, because by the time they faced fourth-and-10 from the Bengals' 11-yard line trailing by 14 with 3:09 remaining, the Steelers had "fired all of our bullets at that juncture."

A quick throw to running back Najee Harris was caught but lost 1 yard.

The Steelers' second straight loss after seemingly having announced their presence with authority in the opener in Buffalo became official soon thereafter.

In the immediate aftermath what had happened somehow seemed less of a concern than what the Steelers intended to do about it.

Stay the course?

Shake things up?

If Tomlin knew what buttons he intended to push, it's hard to imagine he didn't as he announced a refusal to "sugarcoat" what had transpired against Cincinnati, he wasn't saying beyond emphasizing a collective "resolve to do better."

A similar question was posed to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Are pats on the back or kicks in the backside required right about now?

"Yes, both, but it's gotta start with me," Roethlisberger responded. "I'm not gonna point the fingers at anybody else. I'll point the thumb at myself and try and get it figured out. I'm a little stumped by it. I'm frustrated. I'm hurt. I hate losing. I'm never gonna quit and give up.

"It's frustrating because I know the work that we all put in. Myself and the other guys and Coach Canada (offensive coordinator Matt) and the other coaches are busting our butt. We're having great days of practice. We're having great walk-throughs, good meetings.

"I just hope at some point it clicks for us."

It hasn't yet on offense.

It never will if the Steelers begin to lose faith in themselves amid the mounting sting and frustration.

Perhaps that's why running back Najee Harris was being counseled and consoled after having suffered a second consecutive loss for the first time since his senior year in high school.

"A couple guys came to me and said, 'This isn't college,'" Harris offered. "Every week you're playing somebody good. You're not going to win every game. You're playing good teams every week, so really just keeping level-headed and not really losing focus of the ultimate goal is what they were telling me, to sum it all up. Numerous guys told me that.

"It's obviously not good to lose, especially two games back to back. But we're just still trying to find the rhythm of a team, and offense-wise, too. It just takes time."

Roethlisberger figured out as much a long time ago.

And while he's groping for answers along with everyone else, he knows better than most where the search has to begin.

"Just don't quit," he said. "You know, there's a little something called pride when you play for the Pittsburgh Steelers, when you put the Black and Gold on. You may not have the best day, things may not be going your way, but you don't quit. You get back up and you fight.

"It was instilled in me when I got here and I hope I can keep passing it on to guys. I know the guys in the '70s and the Steele Curtain, just everybody that has put this jersey on knows what it means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler through wins and losses. We just have to keep instilling that message to everybody."

It might not seem like much in the wake of Bengals 24, Steelers 10.

But if you're going to bounce back, you've got to start somewhere.

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