Players know they must bounce back

They've been down this wrong road before, so they know how to get back on track.

The question the Steelers asked and addressed in the wake of losing to San Diego was how to make that happen at least one more time.

"I want to see how we're going to respond," linebacker Larry Foote offered after the Chargers had stunned the Steelers, 34-24, last Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field. "I'm anxious to see that.

"Even (Monday), as far as guys coming in lifting weights and watching film, how we're going to buckle up, accept the criticism, take responsibility for what we did (on Sunday), I'm looking forward to that.

"I'm looking forward to how guys are going to respond (this coming) Sunday (in Dallas), of course. Just knowing these guys, we're going to respond. We've done it time and time again. I'm quite sure we're going to have a better showing next week."

The response against San Diego had been such that defensive end Brett Keisel was of the opinion "the whole game felt out of hand.

"It didn't feel like we were in the game at all," Keisel continued. "That's the tough thing. I feel like we have a good football team. It's tough to go out and perform that way and try to figure out why."

The Chargers established leads of 13-0 in the first half and 27-3 in the third quarter before the Steelers eventually closed the gap with a pair of touchdowns in the final six minutes.

Losing by just 10 points didn't alter free safety Ryan Clark's perspective.

"This was never a game," he said. "This was never close. We made it look good toward the end because they took their foot off the pedal, and thank God they did that because there's no telling what the score could have been."

Clark maintained the Steelers will prepare for Dallas in the wake of losing to San Diego in the same way they had prepared for San Diego in the wake of beating Baltimore.

"The formula doesn't change," he said. "You go to work the same way you go to work when you beat Baltimore with Charlie Batch (at quarterback). We went to work the exact same way. We just came out and it didn't happen.

"They came to our stadium and played better football than us physically, mentally. They had more emotion. When you let a team do that you're not going to be in the game."

Added Keisel: "You have to respond, you have to. We have to have a good week of preparation and respond, show what type of character this team has.

"It's just frustrating. It's frustrating to see us make flashes, to see us have the makings of a good team and not be able to perform the way you know you're capable of performing."

Foote sees how a team handles such frustration and its accompanying fallout as being ultimately decisive during the course of an NFL season.

"Always during the course of the season negative thoughts are going to be trying to creep into your mind," he said. "The team at the end that wins the Lombardi (trophy) defeated those thoughts and they kept them under control and kept believing, kept the faith.

"And the teams that don't win it, those are the ones that had too much doubt and didn't kick it out."

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