Great players must play great

The standard in the Chuck Noll era was that you didn't do what you could; you did what you had to do.

"There's no such thing as 50-50," Noll once explained. "You do whatever you have to do as part of the team. You may have to carry somebody."

Years later the same sentiment resonates with modern-day Steelers, wide receiver Antonio Brown among them.

"I gotta be that guy, every game, every play," Brown maintained. "I gotta be 100 percent. I gotta be able to deliver in clutch situations."

Brown caught seven passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's 27-24 loss to Tampa Bay. But it was a play he didn't make on a flea-flicker in the fourth quarter that proved most memorable from his perspective.

"You think about the plays, the mishaps that you left out there," he said. "All those little things that you leave out there can affect the game. It's all about winning. When you don't come through on those clutch plays that can be the difference to willing your team to win, everything else is unnecessary."

Brown is one of four Steelers with multiple Pro Bowl appearances (two) on his resume (strong safety Troy Polamalu, center Maurkice Pouncey, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger are the others).

Highlight photos from the last regular season match up between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011. The Steelers defeated the Jaguars 17-13.

Polamalu, a four-time, first-team All-Pro, is aware of the responsibility that accompanies such status.

"Maybe I need to commit more time, do more of the little things, maybe be a better leader," Polamalu said after the collapse against Tampa Bay.

Polamalu also had taken himself to task on the last-minute, 41-yard catch and run by Louis Murphy to the 5-yard line that set up the Buccaneers for the game-winning touchdown.

"I felt I should have been much closer to that play, perhaps even make the play," Polamalu said Sunday. "That's the disappointing part for me. We'll see how I can improve to help this team close games out."

For Brown, for Polamalu, for Pouncey, another former first-team All-Pro, and for Roethlisberger, a two-time Pro Bowl pick and a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, the desire to deliver as necessary as individuals in support of the team is ever present.

But so, too, is an understanding that "if you try to do too much, then sometimes you don't do your job," Roethlisberger said.

In the Tampa Bay game the players who are among the Steelers' most decorated and most heavily depended upon all failed at critical junctures, an occurrence that was as rare as it was impossible to overcome.  

"It was such a crazy, fluky-type game," Roethlisberger continued. "AB (Brown) doesn't drop that ball (on the flea-flicker); if he catches that it's over most likely. We have a Pro Bowl center who's the best in the game. When was the last time you ever saw him do an illegal snap? It doesn't happen (but Pouncey had one of those when the Steelers were trying to run out the clock late). I missed (wide receiver) Markus Wheaton down the sideline, wide open. I'm not saying I don't miss open people, but it doesn't happen that often.

"So for the crazy things that happened, it's unfortunate they all happened in the same game. It would be one thing if AB dropped it and we didn't have the false-start snap or didn't have me missing a play, or vice-versa. They just all happened in the same game, and it's unfortunate because they end up being much more obvious when you lose the game."

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