- Associated Press - Monday, September 12, 2011

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Go ahead, pick your adjective. The Pittsburgh Steelers probably used it following a stunning 35-7 loss to Baltimore on Sunday.

Safety Ryan Clark called it “a whipping.” Several players went with “humbling.” Linebacker James Harrison considers it “a reality check” while offensive tackle Willie Colon labeled it “embarrassing.”

Whatever it was, it wasn’t nearly good enough for a team that spent training camp talking about taking the next step after a crushing Super Bowl defeat.

The offense, the one considered the team’s most potent since quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took over eight years ago, turned it over seven times. The defense, the one that’s shouted down any suggestion that it’s starting to get too old, allowed Baltimore running back Ray Rice to go over 100 yards and failed to take the ball away once.

The best team in the AFC a year ago didn’t look like the best team _ or even the second-best team _ in the AFC North.

Wide receiver Antonio Brown spent Monday dutifully going through tape highlighting the ugly details.

“A lot of guys would have never expected us to come out with a game like that,” Brown said.

Particularly the Steelers.

Though coach Mike Tomlin did his best to try and calm his team, shaking hands with his players afterward and reminded them it was just three miserable hours in a four-month marathon.

Still, for a team playing against the usual high expectations, to fall woefully short of them even for a week was disheartening.

“We knew going into the game that we were going to face a lot of adversity, but we normally stay positive and respond to it,” Brown said. “But I think everything we did, as far as responding to it, wasn’t in the right way.”

It’s hardly time to panic. Yet it has been so long since the Steelers were manhandled so completely even the team’s most even-keeled guys lost their cool. Safety Troy Polamalu, a day after signing a contract extension that will keep in with the team through 2014, found himself mixing it up with several Ravens out of frustration.

“I may have lost it a little bit, which is not a good example,” Polamalu said. “You know what, that’s also part of this game. The truth of it is we got our butts kicked.”

There’s plenty to work on heading into Sunday’s home opener against Seattle.

The somewhat patchwork offensive line failed to open any holes for running back Rashard Mendenhall, who managed just 45 yards on 12 carries as the Steelers spent most of the second half trying to get back in the game. The Ravens also sacked Roethlisberger four times and harassed him into three interceptions.

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