LONDON – With Ben Roethlisberger finally playing in the city of Big Ben, it is the Pittsburgh Steelers defense that wants to stand tall in London.
The Steelers landed in London on Friday to prepare for Sunday's game against Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings at Wembley Stadium.
Trying to avoid its first 0-4 start in 45 years, Pittsburgh is hoping its defense can spark a turnaround.
"Steelers football has always been about the defense, about going out there and dominating, getting turnovers, and putting points on the board regardless of what the offense does," linebacker LaMarr Woodley said. "We know what we're dealing with a guy like Adrian Peterson. We just can't give up the big plays."
With the Vikings also 0-3, Peterson will be expected to carry the load on Sunday with quarterback Christian Ponder out with a fractured rib. Backup Matt Cassel will start.
The Steelers have struggled on both sides of the ball, and Roethlisberger was focused on a victory rather than taking in the London sights — including the original Big Ben clock tower.
"We'd like to possess the ball. We'd like to extend drives, so that means converting third downs," Roethlisberger said. "The more we can keep (Peterson) off the field, the better we can be."
Rookie running back Le'Veon Bell will make his debut after missing the start of the season because an ankle injury. The Steelers running game was ranked 31st in the NFL coming in.
"I hope (he provides a spark) because we can use anything we could get," offensive lineman David DeCastro said. "We have to get in a situation where we're ahead and don't have to pass the ball."
Cornerback Ike Taylor was soaking up the trip just hours after touching down.
"It means a lot (to be in London). It's a totally different atmosphere," Taylor said. "When you think of London you think of style, you think of fashion. I hope I can bring a little bit of London swag to Pittsburgh."
With the game being played at Wembley, Taylor spoke of his love of soccer star Lionel Messi and his desire to meet the British monarch.
"I tell you I would love to meet the queen — the head lady," he said.
Taylor also reveled in the accents of the British journalists in attendance, asking them questions about the local slang. He learned an elevator is called the "lift" and a rest room the "loo."
Taylor's humor was in contrast to the no-nonsense demeanor of coach Mike Tomlin.
"I'm not here for vacation, I'm here to work," Tomlin said. "We're trying to get our footing. We're searching for normalcy."
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
Follow Paul Logothetis on Twitter @PaulLogoAP