By Teresa Varley
Wide receiver Hines Ward couldn't hide his dejection after the Steelers lost to the Cleveland Browns, 13-6, dropping their fifth game in a row. But he also couldn't find an answer for the team's late-season struggles.
"That's disappointing to lose five straight, coming off a Super Bowl from last year," said Ward. "It's embarrassing for me.
"We are better than that. I see this team put the work in at practice. For whatever reason, we are not going out and playing the way we are capable of playing. There is nothing fun about losing five in a row. We still have the makeup of the same team that we did last year. People are going to question what has happened to the team and I really can't say. I don't know."
What Ward does know is that the players must approach the final three games of the season with heart and not just pack it in as pride is definitely on the line.
"I think it all starts with the individual," said Ward. "We have to continue to go out, work hard and lead by example. We will see who really wants to go out here, play for the pride of this organization and our city, and who doesn't want to be around here. I am going to continue to fight my tail off even though we are not in the playoffs.
"There is nothing fun about losing games, especially five in a row. We are better than that. We should play better than that. We are all in it together, players and coaches. I can't pinpoint why we are losing. We all have our hand in it. We, as a group, have to come together and continue to go out and fight these last three games.
"You are going to find out a lot about this team in the last three games. We will figure out who is going to quit and who is going to go out and continue to fight."
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Wide receiver Santonio Holmes has been putting up big numbers this season, the best of his four-year career. Holmes went over the 1,000-yard plateau for the first time when he had six receptions for 93 yards in the loss to the Browns, giving him 1,080 yards on the year. Holmes never had a 1,000-yard season while playing collegiately at Ohio State.
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Kickoff for the Steelers game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, December 20 has been changed to a 4:15 start.
The change was made as part of the NFL Flex Scheduling.
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The Steelers will team with the Central Blood Bank for the Steelers Blood Drive on Monday, December 28 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Heinz Field in the Steelers Locker Room. Donors can call 412-209-7080 to set up their appointment.