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Steelers embrace the challenge

Monday Night Football.

National television.

Facing a 2-0 team.

Backs against the wall.

It's a perfect opportunity for the Steelers to flip the switch and turnaround what has been a disappointing start to the season for them.

"Every game is important if you are trying to make the playoffs," said Cameron Heyward. "We are 0-1-1. Let's just get a win. I embrace the challenge. They are 2-0. We are 0-1-1. I am tired of saying that. We have to get ready for football. We are on a big stage. They are going to bring their hard hat ready to work."

Ryan Fitzpatrick's latest fashion statement might not include a hard hat, but he is playing lights out. Fitzpatrick was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for the second consecutive week after leading the Bucs to a win over the Eagles on Sunday. Fitzpatrick completed 27 of 33 passes for 402 yards and four touchdowns, with a quarterback rating of 144.4.

"He is just controlling the offense," said Mike Hilton. "He is making the right decisions, he isn't forcing anything. Come Monday night he is going to be confident and we have to be ready for it.

"It starts up front. As far as the back end we have to make sure we lock down and make plays on the ball when they are in the air."

Fitzpatrick, who is starting while Jameis Winston is serving a three-game suspension, has thrown for eight touchdowns in two weeks and has a passer rating of 151.5 in the early part of this season.

Stopping Fitzpatrick's hot streak isn't just about stopping him. It's stopping all aspects of their offense, as well as the defense working together.

"It's got to consist of one, stopping the run," said Heyward. "He gets the ball out quick. We have to get our hands up and be able to disrupt some things. It comes down to our communication, our execution. When we execute and talk together, we are hard to beat. But when we give up bonehead plays and guys are open downfield, we look like crap.

"We're stressing it from all angles. We have to be hard on ourselves because we didn't perform well. It's easier to point out mistakes when you lose than when you win because you can mask your mistakes. We'll take it head on. I am looking forward to attacking it every day."

Kicking it around: It was a tough day at the office for Jordan Berry against the Chiefs last week, when the Heinz Field crowd didn't hide their displeasure, showering him with boos after he had a net average of 31.6 yards on five punts.

"I haven't hit the ball well," said Berry. "I just have to kick it well. I just have to hit it smooth and clean and we'll be fine."

Berry acknowledged that the team tried out several punters this week and said all he had to do is punt in games like he has been in practice and things will turn around.

"I heard about that," said Berry. "As long as I am punting well no one is going to beat me out. It's the NFL. You hit a couple of bad balls, that is going to happen.

"In practice I have been smashing the ball. In the game I have to translate that and make sure I am getting the process clean and smooth."

He said it:

Maurkice Pouncey on Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bucs offense:
"Fitzpatrick is hot right now. He has a lot of passing yards, receivers are getting open. They are doing a lot of good things. O-line is blocking. You have to praise teams when they are doing good things."

Pouncey on the Bucs defense:
"They rush really, really well. They have fast linebackers. They have guys that can cover too. They are on a hot streak right now. They are playing really, really well. We have to come and play. They are going to be ready."

James Conner on the Bucs defense:
"They have a solid linebacker group, solid group up front, solid defense in general, their linebackers can run. We just have to put the ball in the right places and run hard."

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