'I gotta be the example'

Seven games into the season wide receiver Diontae Johnson is still looking for his first touchdown reception and the Steelers are still in search of their third win.

That's not what anyone envisioned.

And it's a development that requires a response this week, Johnson maintained, as the Steelers prepare for Sunday's game at Philadelphia.

"Yeah, it's tough," Johnson acknowledged. "Nothing is going our way. We missed plays that we should make or what not, or we had little moments like, 'Oh, shoulda, coulda did this and that.' It starts with practice and how you work in practice, I believe it shows in the game.

"That's what I'm real big on, practice and then it translates. That's all we gotta do is just continue to work."

The latest "shoulda, coulda" occurred in the closing seconds last Sunday night against the Dolphins.

Quarterback Kenny Pickett scrambled left on second-and-2 from the Miami 25-yard line with 25 seconds left in regulation and eventually tried to hit Johnson at the front pylon.

Johnson broke the other way as the ball was being released and cornerback Noah Igbinoghene came up with an acrobatic interception that sealed the Steelers' fate in a 16-10 setback.

Pickett initially attributed what took place to a "miscommunication.

"I thought he was going to come back down," Pickett explained in the immediate aftermath at Hard Rock Stadium. "He ended up going vertical.

"I wanted to put it high and outside and give him a chance to make a play, but that's on me. I got to run it there and get out of bounds or just throw it out, throw it away, and play another down and give us a better chance."

Johnson maintained it was "nothing (Pickett) did wrong.

"We both tried to make a play," he said. "(Pickett) was trying to throw the ball out of bounds expecting me to be in a certain spot and the 'D' made a play on the ball. The play just broke down, he was trying to scramble, make a play.

"He was trying to throw it out of bounds and the guy (Igbinoghene) made a play on the ball."

Work began today on ensuring a better result the next time.

"More repetition," Johnson said. "We gotta get more reputation at practice this week.

"If another play like that happens in a game, hopefully, we're on the same page."

A catch there could have been the game-winner.

Just as Johnson could have had a touchdown in the back of the end zone against the Jets, could have had a drive-sustaining catch at the 2 against the Bills and could have had a touchdown in Buffalo.

The inability to finish such plays for one reason or another is a frustrating trend Johnson has vowed not to let affect how he approaches what's ahead.

"I can't be frustrated," he said. "Kenny is still learning. Everybody's still trying to get a feel for each other. We're still trying to get the rhythm going. Not using that as an excuse, we're just trying to do whatever we can to turn this around.

"I can't be frustrated, I gotta be the example of the group and continue to lead and act like nothing's wrong. Because at the end of the day stuff can go our way and you never know when those tables are gonna turn. I try and I am trying to keep a positive mindset through this whole season."