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, outside our locker room, doesn't matter. We're going to keep on lifting him up. We're going to keep respecting him and keep doing our best to keep playing for him."
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ryan Clark is familiar with the drill.
"I know where the breakdowns were and they had nothing to do with schematics," Polamalu said.
LeBeau appreciates the sentiment but is far more diplomatic. While he could point out the Steelers remain a respectable 12th in total defense heading into Sunday's game against Buffalo (3-6) or how they shut down Baltimore and the New York Jets in consecutive wins last month, that's not his way.
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, the players charged with causing havoc have looked mortal.
Clark might as well be talking about LeBeau, who has spent the last 54 years on an NFL sideline. Last week wasn't the first time one of LeBeau's teams has been steamrolled. It might not be the last either. When it happens, you move forward and keep working.
The split-second delay in Polamalu's reaction allowed Rob Gronkowski to get free for a second-quarter score,Wholesale NFL Jerseys
. Polamalu arrived a half-step late and could only deal Gronkowski a glancing blow as the tight end tumbled across the goal line.
Polamalu, perhaps more than any other player in the NFL, is given the green light to freelance and use his instincts to disrupt opposing offenses. Tom Brady used the future Hall of Famer's aggressiveness to New England's advantage, often looking one way after taking the snap only to turn and throw the ball the other direction.
Every time the Pittsburgh Steelers don't look like the best defense in football, a rarity for a unit that has finished No. 1 in the NFL five times in the last decade, the whispers the NFL has passed by 76-year-old defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau morph into throaty roars.
Time and again last weekend Polamalu and Clark found themselves fruitlessly chasing Patriots into the end zone then trudging back to the bench to explain to LeBeau or secondary coach Carnell Lake what went wrong.
Yet LeBeau's decision to get back to basics does not mean he plans on stripping Polamalu of the creativity he needs to be a difference maker. That's fine by Clark, who is often left to clean up the mess if things go awry.
Rookie outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, taken almost exclusively for his ability to get into the backfield, has been unable to find consistent playing time. While safety Troy Polamalu is healthy, the 32-year-old also looks at times like 10 seasons of frenetic play is starting to take its toll.
Clark's message? Save it. It was one game. A bad one, to be sure. But just one. And while there are plenty of issues to address as Pittsburgh (2-6) tries to snap out of an overall funk that dates nearly a year, LeBeau's ability is not among them.
Pittsburgh was a step slow, sometimes more, against New England. It's LeBeau's job to make sure that doesn't happen.
The mistakes were made on the field, Polamalu said, not in practice or in meeting rooms, the place where LeBeau is equal parts teacher, father figure and mentor.
NOTES: Steelers CB Ike Taylor (concussion) returned to practice on Wednesday and should play on Sunday against the Bills. ... T Marcus Gilbert (ankle), T Kelvin Beachum (knee) and LB Vince Williams (concussion) were limited. ... LB Sean Spence, placed on the IR for the second straight season with a left knee injury said he was "disappointed" to not make it back this season but vowed to return in 2014.
The din only grew louder last weekend, when Pittsburgh surrendered a franchise-record 55 points and 610 yards in a loss to New England. Suddenly, a slow start in which the Steelers struggled to do the things that have been their trademark under LeBeau — namely stopping the run and limiting big plays — began to look like something far more troubling.
"We play bad and we all have a bad game," LeBeau said. "I certainly take my full ownership to that. We're not going to duck our head. We're not going to tuck our tail. This is a league of competitors. We're going to go out and compete."
LeBeau and the rest of the coaching staff went back to "Page 1" this week in hopes of finding a spark that's been missing much of the season. Pittsburgh is 29th in the NFL in sacks (13) and takeaways (six). The lack of splash plays has forced th