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After Further Review: The search continues

Now what?

For starters, Mike Tomlin vowed not to accept another unacceptable performance.

At the end of a night that was disheartening, inspiring and ultimately agonizing, the Steelers' head coach emerged determined to keep trying until they get it right.

They're about out of time in the wake of Vikings 36, Steelers 28, and at 6-6-1 with four regular-season games remaining.

About the only good news is there's no confusion as to the identity of the elephant in the trenches.

"We're getting beat in the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball," Tomlin emphasized repeatedly. "I'm not going to make it more complex than what it is."

That's no revelation.

Getting better in those areas has been a season-long endeavor.

Offensive line, defensive line and inside linebacker have been below the line.

Options were limited on Thursday night in Minneapolis as to what could be done about it.

But today's another day.

And there will be a more of those before the Steelers host Tennessee on Dec. 19.

Stay tuned.

"We're limited tonight," Tomlin continued. "We got 10 days, 11 days or whatever between now and our next one.

"We'll do whatever we can to strengthen ourselves."

Answers aren't often found this late in a campaign on somebody else's practice squad, the waiver wire or the street.

Likewise, if there are those from within who haven't as yet been afforded an opportunity, there's probably a reason.

Game action photos from the Steelers' Week 14 game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium

But the alternative would be to accept what's been taking place, which includes the Steelers falling from 5-3 to 6-6-1 by going 1-3-1 in their last five games.

"We will not be bashful about turning the stones over," Tomlin insisted.

That process has been ongoing.

It was apparent even before the Steelers fell into a 29-0 hole in the third quarter in Minnesota.

John Leglue started at left guard after handling the majority of the snaps at the position last Sunday against Baltimore.

Leglue made his first career start in what became the second NFL game in which he had played and the third for which he had dressed.

Nose tackle Montravius Adams played in his second game with the Steelers.

It was his 10th day as a member of the organization.

Second-year safety-turned-linebacker Marcus Allen played nine defensive snaps as the lone linebacker in the six-defensive backs "dime" defense.

They were Allen's first nine defensive snaps of the season.

Rookie Buddy Johnson played six defensive snaps.

Those were his first six as a pro in what was the third NFL game in which he's appeared.

Lineup alterations were also thrust upon the Steelers, as they have been all season.

T.J. Watt (groin) and Alex Highsmith (knee) were knocked out early enough that Derrek Tuszka and Taco Charleton became the outside linebackers of record, playing 74 percent and 53 percent of the defensive snaps, respectively.

Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon made his second consecutive start in place of Joe Haden (foot).

Witherspoon was inactive for seven of the first eight regular-season games.

And guard Rashaad Coward, a game-day promotion from the practice squad to the Active/Inactive roster, even ended up playing his first two snaps with the Steelers (in place of Leglue).

This isn't what anyone envisioned in August.

But it's who they are and where they are.

It may become more unrecognizable before it gets better.

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