last place in AFC North

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger chose to come back for his 18th season, believing the Pittsburgh Steelers still had the ability to contend for a Super Bowl even without so many of the faces that protected him so capably for so long.

The 39-year-old insists he doesn’t have buyer’s remorse, though the optimism that came easily during training camp is fading. The hits he’s absorbing are starting to pile up.

The losses too, the latest a baffling 24-10 setback against Cincinnati on Sunday in which the Steelers (1-2) hardly looked like a group close to figuring it out.

Not with an offense that draws penalties with alarming frequency and an injury-marred defense missing two of its top pass rushers.

No wonder coach Mike Tomlin made it a point to spread the blame around in the aftermath.

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