Getting smashed: When you lose, 38-3, there is no sugarcoating it, and Coach Mike Tomlin didn't when he spoke following the loss to the Bills.
"We just got smashed today," said Tomlin.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen put up 424 yards, with four touchdowns, while the Bills defense didn't allow the Steelers offense to get anything going.
"They're a good football team," said Tomlin. "It's nothing mystical about it. They did similar things to Tennessee. We know it's capable of happening. I'm just disappointed that we didn't coach well enough, or play well enough, to prevent it from happening today. And that's just the reality of it. So, we got to absorb the position that we're in and what transpired today."
Defensive tackle Cameron Heyward referred to the loss as a 'dark day,' but Tomlin knows the players in the locker room can do better and will do better moving forward.
"We got to know that there's going to be better days," said Tomlin. "Not to provide or to seek comfort. Knowing that there's better days is going to be born out of our commitment to making sure that there are better days. That's what I talked to the team about. But where we are today, not good. We understand it as professionals. We own it."
When asked if he is willing to make other changes in the starting lineup, including on defense, Tomlin was definitive in his answer.
"Absolutely, man," said Tomlin. "You play like we played today, you gotta be open to doing whatever's required to change the outcome of these games. And so that's a given. I don't think anybody's going to be surprised by our willingness to turn over whatever stone and change the outcome of games like transpired today. That's just appropriate."
Tomlin was asked further if the changes could impact the coaching staff as well.
"Like I said, I think everyone understands where we are and what transpired today and that it is not cool," said Tomlin. "And so, you can draw whatever conclusions you want to draw from it. That's just the realities of our business at this level."
Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett made his first NFL start, completing 34 of 52 passes for 327 yards and an interception. While many wanted Tomlin to evaluate his quarterback's play, postgame wasn't the time.
"I thought he was highly competitive," said Tomlin. "But I'm not dissecting it in this way as I stand here right now. We got smashed and that's the only perspective that I have. I understand the nature of your question. It's his first start and so you got to write a story, etc. But football is the ultimate team game. That's why we all love it so much. That's why we all respect it so much. And we got smashed as a collective today. So, I don't have a lot of individual analysis to do."
Things won't get any easier this week with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming to Acrisure Stadium this week.
"The first thing to do is to watch the tape and to assess what transpired and learn and grow from it and then plot a course for our next opportunity," said Tomlin. "We repeat a similar process week in and week out because we just believe in that approach to what it is that we do. The challenges keep coming in the NFL, so you better be systematic and rhythmic in terms of how you deal with it.
"Although today is miserable, we won't reinvent the wheel. We'll get back to work tomorrow. We'll evaluate our performance. We'll own it. We'll learn from it."
Everyone has to do their job: After leading the Steelers for the first time as an NFL starter, quarterback Kenny Pickett turned his attention to doing what he can to help lead the team out of the malaise of a losing streak that reached four games with Sunday's 38-3 loss in Buffalo.
Although just a rookie, Pickett recognizes such responsibilities are attached to his position.
"There's ways to do it, right?" he said. "There's definitely ways to do it. There's no finger-pointing. I gotta take a lot of ownership of this. I'm the quarterback of the team. They drafted me in the first round for a reason, to go out and play. I was ready to go, once they drafted me I wanted to be the guy so there's a lot of things that come with that.
"And I think the way I work and how much effort and time I put in with these guys, I think the respect is there. So when I'm talking to guys there's no disrespect, no calling anybody out. We all wanna win. That's something we have to continue to work towards. The road doesn't get easier so it's gotta get fixed quickly."
And it has to get fixed, Pickett emphasized, player by player.
"Everyone has to do their job, right?" he said. "There's 10 other guys out there with me. We have to kind of look in the mirror at ourselves as players, figure out what we have to do better. There's a lot of fingers that can be pointed but when you look at yourself I think we'll improve a lot faster that way. It starts with myself. I'm gonna look at what I can improve on and get ready to go next week."
Pickett completed 34 of 52 passes for 327 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.
He moved the Steelers into the red zone on their first possession of the game but they ended up settling for a field goal.
They also reached the Buffalo red zone on the first possession of the second half and on their last possession of the fourth quarter.
Touchdowns eluded them throughout.
"We were moving the ball fine," Pickett said. "We stalled in the red zone. That kinda was the MO for the whole day. We moved the ball up and down the field and then we'd get to the red zone and not finish, not put points up.
"We have to look back and see, were we one-dimensional? Were we throwing all the time once we got down? We gotta figure it out as players to stay ahead of the chains and not put us in those situations where they know we're throwing and execute. And we had some penalties, a lot of things that we gotta clean up."
Pickett continued competing to the very end despite the lopsided score.
He even shoved Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson after a fourth-and-14 pass from the Bills' 26-yard line with 1:07 left in regulation fell incomplete.
"My opinion, it felt like he went after my knee after I threw it and that's it," Pickett said. "Tempers flare, I don't care. I'm gonna keep playing until the last play of the game.
"This is my first start, man. I dreamed about this day since I picked up a football.
I was really excited to play, was gonna give it everything I had until that last snap."
A dark day: Cameron Heyward is a leader on defense.
He plays with heart and soul. Gives everything he has.
After the game, all you had to do was see the look on his face to know how bad this loss hurt.
His words told the story even more.
"Every facet of the game they won," said Heyward. "Yeah, it sucked.
"We played bad. Bad is an understatement. Personally, I take this, my play, my leadership, not enough. I think every man's gotta do that first to get better. I've got to take that.
"Not playing well. The run, big plays were very key today, not winning one on one matchups. Just tough."
Heyward would love to have a magical fix to the issues, but as he said there are multiple things to point to.
"It's a myriad of things," said Heyward. "Execution. Not tackling. Not using basic things that we practiced from training camp, whether it's staying inside or having the gap or using your hands. It's all of these things included. And that butt kicking we just took proves that.
"If there's anybody that can say they had a great game, then you're not searching hard enough. We all got to own this. From top to bottom.
"It's a dark day. When you lose like that, you can't go running from it."