Mood is less than jolly as winless Steelers, Vikings head to England

Ben Roethlisberger
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tugs on his helmet as he leaves the field during the final minutes of the Steelers’ loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday night.
(Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in foreign territory, and not just because they’re playing in London on Sunday.

The Steelers are among the NFL’s six winless teams, 0-3 for the first time since 2000, and desperately seeking answers. Never in the modern era of the league has Pittsburgh lost its first four games.

“It’s a situation we’re not familiar with,” defensive end Brett Keisel said after Sunday night’s 40-23 loss to Chicago. “If we have the type of character we think we do, we can overcome this and find a way to fight back.”

The Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh’s opponent Sunday, are just as hungry for a victory. They too are 0-3, and are coming off a 31-27 loss at home to Cleveland.


With the drumbeat from the outside getting louder for the Vikings to replace quarterback Christian Ponder, Coach Leslie Frazier said Monday that he has no intention of making a change simply to try something different. By his thinking, there’s no better option at the moment.

“You got to be able to stand in front of the guys in the locker room and talk to them about why you’re making the change,” Frazier said. “Then it’s got to be something you feel like is going to help your football team be successful. So change for change sake — I don’t totally buy into that.”

So it’s 0-3 versus 0-3 on a weekend when only four of 15 games pit teams with winning records: Chicago at Detroit, Seattle at Houston, the New York Jets at Tennessee, and — in a Monday night battle of unbeatens — Miami at New Orleans.

Whereas the last 0-3 team to reach the postseason was the 1998 Buffalo Bills, 75% of the teams that have started 3-0 have made the playoffs since 1990.


Miami Coach Joe Philbin isn’t spending much time thinking about those odds.

“It’s a meaningless stat,” he said Monday.

Maybe, but with his team 3-0 and so many 0-3 teams scratching their heads, Philbin certainly wouldn’t be happy changing places.

At a loss

Remember when reasonable observers thought the bulk of the Super Bowl contenders were in the NFC? That was three whole weeks ago.

Now, consider this: Seattle is 3-0, and the other five NFC teams that made the playoffs last season have won a combined three games. That’s San Francisco (1-2), Green Bay (1-2), Minnesota (0-3), Atlanta (1-2) and Washington (0-3).

Winless wonderland

Unless the London game ends in a tie, at least one winless team will come away from Week 4 with its first victory.


It’s a good bet, though, that more than one team will come out of next weekend at 0-4.

Jacksonville, coming off a 45-17 loss at Seattle, has a home game against Indianapolis, which just beat San Francisco on the road.

The New York Giants, stunned at Carolina, 38-0, face the undefeated Chiefs in Kansas City.

Tampa Bay, which could muster only a field goal in a 23-3 loss at New England, plays Arizona at home.

And then there are the winless Washington Redskins, who have surrendered 1,464 yards in three games. According to Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the highest total allowed in the first three games by any team in NFL history.

Many people want the Redskins to change their nickname.

Is Washington Generals available?


Twitter: @latimesfarmer

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