Loss still stings Steelers

Time heals all wounds.

While it might be true, for the Steelers not enough time has passed since their loss to the Denver Broncos for any wounds to have healed.

"It's the same feeling just like last season," said receiver Antonio Brown. "We didn't finish the way we wanted to. We are going into this offseason knowing that we didn't finish the way we had planned."

Cornerback Keenan Lewis said it really started to hit him on Tuesday that the season was over now that everything is quieting down.

"It's kind of getting to me now," said Lewis. "My friends on other teams are telling me how they are getting ready to practice. Our season is over. We have to wait until next year to do something about it."

On Tuesday, instead of preparing to play the New England Patriots in a divisional playoff game, players began to have their exit interviews with Coach Mike Tomlin.

"We didn't want to go home, losing in overtime like that," said cornerback William Gay. "It was a tough game on the road, in the playoffs and we thought we had a good chance to win the Super Bowl. It's a tough pill to swallow.

"We had a great chance. We fell short last year. We came back through all the injuries and suspensions and we never used that as an excuse. We were 12-4. We just didn't win the division to get the bye week. I still felt like we had a great chance."

Lewis said he has avoided watching game highlights, trying to steer clear from sports news as much as he can right now while it all continues to sink in.

"I try not to watch television," said Lewis. "I don't even want to hear about it right now. I will wait until next week when the Broncos play somebody else and they have more highlights."

Running back Isaac Redman, who was one of the bright spots against the Broncos with 17 carries for 121 yards, didn't take solace in his strong post-season performance.

"It's tough because you always want to come out on top," said Redman. "You want to have your hand in the pile and help take your team to the Super Bowl. To lose how we did, we still have that sour taste in our mouth.

"Regardless if I did well or didn't do well, going home with that loss really hurt, regardless of how I did. If I scored a million touchdowns or I didn't score at all, coming home with that loss really hurts."

NFL officials dismissed a published report of an illegal formation on the Broncos touchdown in overtime against the Steelers, stating the play was legal.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league reviewed the play and the officials were correct in not calling a penalty on Denver.

Steelers' players, who first heard about the potential of the illegal formation on Tuesday, said that didn't play a role in them losing the game.

"You have to disregard it," said Gay. "That's not going to give us the win and send us on the plane to New England. Let the league deal with that."

Offensive lineman Trai Essex agreed.

"We still got beat," said Essex. "They still made a play, no matter what the formation was. More props to them."

Cornerback Ike Taylor has been quiet since the loss to the Broncos, other than the following apology he delivered via Twitter after the game: "First off congrats to (Tim) Tebow and the Broncos. Second I apologize for playing the worst game at the wrong time. (I) apologize to my teammates, Steeler Nation and family. Luv y'all to def."

While Taylor hasn't spoken, his teammates have come to his defense knowing it wasn't all on him.

"It was hard for him," said Lewis. "The caliber of player that he is, Pro Bowl guy, sometimes you have bad games. He took it pretty hard, but it wasn't him. We lost as a team. I am pretty sure he will get over it and be ready for next year."

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