- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 12, 2009

For the Pittsburgh Steelers, the worst collapse in NFL history by a reigning Super Bowl champion is as maddening as it is saddening.

Barely a month ago, the Steelers were 6-2 after winning five in a row - beating the Chargers, Vikings and Broncos - and were well-positioned not only to win the AFC North but to take another run at the Super Bowl. Ben Roethlisberger was enjoying a career year statistically, the defense was as nasty as ever and the Steelers had the look and attitude of a champion.

Then, somehow, it all got away from them. Blame it on Troy Polamalu and Aaron Smith getting hurt. Blame it on a delayed Super Bowl hangover, blame it on overconfidence, blame it on a lack of preparation, blame it on an inability to close out close games. Right now, there’s plenty of blame to go around.

For the Steelers (6-7), finding the words to explain a five-game losing streak that has wrecked their hopes of repeating as Super Bowl champions is proving as difficult as covering a kick return.

To Hines Ward, the collapse is “embarrassing.” To Roethlisberger, it’s “disappointing.” Ryan Clark calls it “despicable, sad.” Most of the Steelers call it baffling - and none of them saw it coming.

“We’re better than that,” Ward said after the Steelers’ 13-6 loss at Cleveland on Thursday night. “We should play better than that. I can’t pinpoint why we are losing. We all have a hand in it.”

Only one other Super Bowl champion lost five in a row the following season, and the 1987 Giants deserve an asterisk because they used replacement players during part of that strike-interrupted season.

TITANS: Quarterback Vince Young is questionable for Sunday’s game against St. Louis after aggravating his sore right knee.

Young watched as Kerry Collins took all the first-team reps in Friday’s practice. He was originally hurt in last weekend’s 27-17 loss at Indianapolis, though tests on the knee came back fine. He tweaked the knee Thursday.

“He didn’t practice today,” coach Jeff Fisher said, adding that missing practice “will not have anything to do with whether or not he plays.”

Running back Chris Johnson returned to practice fully and is listed as probable. Receiver Kenny Britt, who also practiced fully after being added to the injury report Thursday with a back injury, is probable, too.

RAVENS: A judge granted a protective order that bars linebacker Terrell Suggs from contact with the mother of his two young children, a decision that Suggs agreed to without admitting any wrongdoing.

Candace D. Williams, 26, accused Suggs of hitting her in the chest, pushing her to the floor, and sitting on her while holding her neck with one hand and a bottle of bleach with the other, according to court documents.

Williams claimed Suggs threatened to drown her with the bleach and that some of it splashed on her and their toddler son, the documents showed. According to court documents, the scuffle began with an argument over tickets to the Ravens’ Nov. 29 game against Pittsburgh.

Suggs, 27, has not been charged with a crime and denies any wrongdoing. Williams filed a lawsuit against Suggs on Tuesday, accusing him of assault and battery and seeking $70 million in damages. She also sued for custody and child support.

GIANTS: With Michael Johnson battling a groin injury and fellow safety C.C. Brown struggling, there is a chance Aaron Ross will make his first start of the year Sunday against Philadelphia.

There’s a catch: Ross would have to play out of position, moving from cornerback to safety.

Ross, who missed the first nine games of the season with a torn left hamstring, has been working at both positions recently, and the Giants’ need this week is definitely at safety.

“The coaches told me they needed me more at safety, so that is where I am prepared to play,” Ross said.

Ross had not played safety since his freshman year at Texas - and that didn’t last long. Soon after, he was moved back to cornerback.

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