From the Press Room: Steelers at Eagles

Keeping a lid on it: Coach Mike Tomlin stressed it time and again during his postgame press conference following the Steelers 35-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The defense didn't keep a lid on it.

"From my perspective it's less about what they do and about the things that we're not doing," said Tomlin. "We're not positioning ourselves to win games. We didn't today, and we got to own that.

"Some fundamental things have fallen short. We got to keep a lid on it. If you don't keep a lid on it in the NFL, you don't give yourself a chance to play.

"We didn't do that. And I thought it was a domino effect from there on. I thought our eyes weren't in the right place defensively and it's capable of happening when you're not keeping a lid on it. You got to keep a lid on it. I thought we were too penalized. I look at those penalties. Some of them I thought were questionable, but that's life.

"I just thought the penalty component of it and our inability to keep a lid on it was Steelers vs. Steelers and when you're playing good people like this group, you're not going to put yourself in position to do the things you need to do."

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts hit A.J. Brown for three touchdowns, 39, 27 and 29 yards, and also hit Zach Pascal for a 34-yard touchdown despite coverage.

"Position is just a component of playmaking," said Tomlin. "The finish is probably equally as important as the positioning and we were in position, but their guy made a play, and we didn't. We were in one-on-one circumstances on the other side of the ball, and it was a different outcome. One time we were out of bounds, one time was OPI, one time the ground dislodged the ball and that's the minutiae. That's the playmaking, that's the difference.

"They were making those plays and we were not, and we got to own that. We got to see it with clear eyes and make no mistake we do. There is nothing comfortable about it, but we see it with clear eyes.

"We got to make those plays. We got to break those balls up or catch them on defense. We got to finish them legally on offense in bounds or otherwise."

The loss sends the Steelers into their bye week at 2-6, with time to look deep at what is happening.

"Keep working," said Tomlin. "We obviously got an opportunity to assess ourselves and get rightly focused and get better and that's what we intend to do.

"Words are not going to get it done, actions are. So, we're going to work hard to say very little, and roll our sleeves up and continue this process." 

Tomlin also referred to penalties, which included nine for 60 yards, including multiple pre-snap penalties.

"Just fundamental things," said Tomlin. "We'll get officials at practice, we'll focus on the things that are problematic for us, particularly in this opportunity that's called the bye week."

Knowing the playbook: Quarterback Kenny Pickett didn't pull punches in assessing what the offense must address first and foremost with the Steelers limping into their bye week at 2-6.

"Playbook, we gotta know what we're doing," Pickett maintained in the immediate aftermath of Eagles 35, Steelers 13. "Not getting in the right spot, having some procedural penalties, personnel in and out of huddle, all things we can control. There's no talent issues, anyone in here can go do that as long as they know what they're doing.

"We gotta get right there and it starts with me. I gotta be more on my stuff, getting these guys right. I'll take ownership of it."

The mental mistakes need to be called out, Pickett emphasized, much more than plays that aren't made.

"Physical stuff, you don't do that to a player," he said. "He drops a ball, you don't rip him for that. But the mental stuff needs to get addressed and that will get addressed. That has to get addressed. We can't keep doing that and hurting ourselves and not even give us a chance to be successful, so that needs to be addressed.

"You feel progress and then we have a penalty or something mental that we can control, and those are the things that frustrate you more than anything. A guy dropping a ball, or missing a block, or I miss a throw, the physical things, pat each other on the back and we'll go get 'em next time. Those are things you can put up with.

"But the stuff we can't put up with is the mental mistakes and that needs to get fixed. We're close, everyone's saying we're close. When we fix that stuff I think then we'll be close."

The problems have persisted, Pickett insisted, and had been plaguing the Steelers well in advance of the loss at Philadelphia.

It's up to the players to acknowledge them and eliminate them, in the rookie quarterback's estimation.

"Something's gotta change, right?" Pickett said. "It's insane to keep doing that same thing over and over again and expect something different. We've been having these problems all year, so that has to get changed. That has to get fixed. We need to look each other in the eyes and get it turned around.

"Coaches can say whatever they want. Everyone else in the media and fans can say what they want but at the end of the day it's down to us. We gotta figure it out."

Being accountable: A subdued Cameron Heyward stood in the media room on Sunday after the loss to the Eagles and his frustration was palpable.

Heyward knows there are problems that are leading to the Steelers 2-6 record and all he wants is to turn things around, especially with extra time as the team has their bye week.

"I think on the defensive side, big plays," said Heyward. "First half you stopped the run, second half you give it up. Pressure can be inconsistent sometimes. But overall, our eye discipline on both sides of the ball is very poor. There's a multitude of things going wrong, but we've got to clean it up. We got two weeks to think about this and we got to grow."

Being accountable for that growth is something that is going to have to fall on every player in the Steelers locker room.

"Either you learn and are accountable or you're not going to play," said Heyward. "We've all been given chances to succeed. If you can't do it, you won't play and that goes for everybody. Not singling one guy out. We all got to be accountable, myself included, as a leader. I got to take most of the blame. It's easy to point. It's better to look yourself in the mirror and say I gotta get better. So, I'm gonna use this time to truly do that."

One thing Heyward was steadfast on was that those in that locker room are good enough to get the job done, despite what they have shown so far.

"When you play like that it tells on yourself," said Heyward. "There's a dysfunction in what we're putting on the field right now.

"We've been going through these losses and there's an eagerness to get this bad taste out of your mouth. Got two weeks to really dive in and see what's going on. A lot of times you don't get to address all the problems you want to do, because you got to move on to the next opponent. We get to really sit back and see what the (heck) is going on. And I'm looking forward to diving into that.

"We'll get back to Pittsburgh and really digest this film, but don't hide from it. Expose the wounds. That's the only way you get better. Not speaking up, not being accountable, not asking the questions. That sets us back. When guys, everybody in our group, when we're not asking the right questions, and we're not taking the accountability and we're not taking on to the practice field and then to the game, there's a dysfunction."

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