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October 2, 2013

Despite losses, Steelers not giving up on themselves

PITTSBURGH — Their quarterback basically has a dislocated right index finger, their best remaining offensive lineman suffered a sprained right pectoral muscle and they’re 0-4.

But the Pittsburgh Steelers remained a confident group Tuesday heading into a bye week.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hit his right hand off a defensive lineman’s hand after a touchdown pass to Jerricho Cotchery in the fourth quarter during Sunday’s 34-27 loss to Minnesota, but he didn’t expect the injury to be anything long-term.

“The doc said it was a subluxation, whatever that is,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday, as he only had tape on his right forefinger. “Yeah, it (hurt). It was kind of uncomfortable. It was pretty painful.”

It’s a good bet that Roethlisberger won’t do anything too strenuous this week, and neither will left offensive guard Ramon Foster. An MRI Monday revealed that Foster suffered a minor sprain of the right pectoral muscle during the first half. Foster isn’t concerned about missing any time.

Neither of those health issues, nor their worst start in 45 years, have deterred the Steelers. However, Roethlisberger still believed that as one of the NFL’s four winless teams – along with Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and the New York Giants – the Steelers were among the league’s worst.

“I was talking record-wise, and if I’m not mistaken we’re one of the – I don’t know how many teams are winless, and I’m a big believer in wins and losses and not numbers – but I would say that record-wise, we’re one of the worst teams in the NFL,” Roethlisberger said. “I don’t think that’s a far stretch.

“I take pride in winning football games, more than any numbers. So, that’s what I’ve based my career on so far, wins and losses. So, it definitely stings. (And) it’s painful to lose games, but I’ll put that on myself.”

So, is there anything to feel good about during this bye week?

“The people that we have in here, they’re good players,” Roethlisberger said. “Obviously, we’re down, and we’re disappointed. It hurts, but I don’t think our confidence is low.”

Maybe, but the Steelers find themselves in the unique position of playing second fiddle in their own city to the playoff-bound Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pirates were to make their first postseason appearance in 21 years on Tuesday night against Cincinnati. Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel, who has a pair of Super Bowl rings, advised the Pirates to “continue to do what you’ve been doing all year to get to this point. Don’t change the team that you have. Don’t change the way that you’ve been preparing. Just keep doing the things that you’ve done up to this point.”

Was that his message to his own teammates as well?

“I don’t know,” Keisel said. “We’re going to continue to work and find a way. We’re going to continue to fight. When you’re 0-4, you’re always looking for things to try to figure out how to get a win.

“And we’re going to continue to do that around here.’ ”

Notes: Rookie running back Le’Veon Bell, who ran for 57 yards and two touchdowns Sunday in his first NFL game, said he “tweaked his (right) foot, but it’s not giving me any issues right now. And I don’t think it’s going to cause me any problems next week.” ... The Steelers will practice Thursday morning before taking four days off. ... Pittsburgh will return to action on Oct. 13 vs. the New York Jets.

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