Steelers Beat Writer

Dale Lolley is a contributor to the Observer-Reporter and has been covering the Pittsburgh Steelers since 1993.

The Steelers played just about as badly as they could last Sunday night in Foxborough, Mass. The end result was a 33-3 beating at the hands of the Patriots that seemed even worse than the final score.

“We weren’t ready for prime time,” head coach Mike Tomlin said following the game, summing things up pretty succinctly.

It begs the question: What was this team doing all offseason to not be ready?

That was a question asked on more than one occasion last Sunday. And Monday. And Tuesday. You get the idea.

The Patriots are a team you can’t come out slowly against. Things will get out of hand quickly.

The Steelers didn’t exactly come out clicking, especially on offense.

Some are quick to point at the fact the Steelers no longer have Antonio Brown on the roster. And let’s face it, his replacement, Donte Moncrief, didn’t exactly impress, catching just three of the 10 passes thrown his way for all of seven yards.

But it was more than just that. The Steelers just weren’t in sync on offense. That’s what happens when so many of your front-line players don’t play a lot in the preseason.

That’s not to say Roethlisberger should have played a lot in the preseason. But he probably should have played more than he did, given the Steelers had three new receivers on the roster including Moncrief.

Sure, there’s some danger of Roethlisberger getting injured. But with the offensive line the Steelers have, Roethlisberger was sacked just once and hit three times last week in a blowout loss in which he threw the ball 47 times.

This team can protect the quarterback.

Expect the Steelers’ offense to look better today against the Seattle Seahawks. It got plenty of reps last week and the Seahawks’ secondary is, well, more the Legion of Doomed than it is the Legion of Boom. After all, the Seahawks allowed Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton to throw for more than 400 yards last week.

  • Radio shows in Boston last week were crowing over the Patriots’ signing of Brown, saying he wouldn’t be the distraction there he had been in previous stops with the Steelers and Raiders.

That lasted all of about 30 seconds.

Bill Belichick held a news conference Wednesday, during which he was asked 14 questions. Every one of them dealt with Brown and the civil suit filed against Brown by his former trainer alleging Brown of sexual assault and harassment.

Yeah, not a distraction at all.

  • Brown has been staying at Tom Brady’s house this week. Wonder how his wife, Giselle, felt about having Brown there after those allegations were made?
  • Any game script that includes Ryan Switzer playing a dozen more snaps than James Conner is a bad one. That’s what happened to the Steelers last week in New England.

Conner is one of the Steelers’ best offensive weapons. He should be on the field at least 80 percent of the time. And certainly more than Switzer.

This week’s picks

Steelers (minus 3 ½) over Seattle: The Steelers are 8-1 with Roethlisberger at quarterback after losing a game by 20 or more points. And Roethlisberger has thrown 17 touchdown passes and just three interceptions in those games. He should have a strong bounce-back game. The Seahawks haven’t scored an offensive touchdown in three games in Pittsburgh since 1998, including getting shut out the past two times, when the Steelers outscored them 45-0. Take the Steelers, 24-13

Baltimore (minus 13) over Arizona: The Ravens got a gimmee last week against the Dolphins. Now they get another with the Cardinals in the home opener. The Dolphins and Cardinals might be the two worst teams in the league. The good news for the Steelers is that they still have games remaining against both of those teams. Take the Ravens, 34-17

Cleveland (minus 6) at N.Y. Jets: Sam Darnold doesn’t just look like he’s 16, he now has mononucleosis, which is typically a teenager’s illness. The Browns went from 2-point favorites before that to 6 now that Trevor Siemien will get the start. Cleveland laid a massive egg in its opener last week and has trouble protecting Baker Mayfield. They also committed 18 penalties. Those issues probably aren’t going away, but they’ll win. Take the Browns, 27-16

Detroit (plus 2) over L.A. Chargers: The Chargers aren’t doing a great job of protecting quarterback Phillip Rivers and lost tight end Hunter Henry this week. They’re banged up. The Lions can score and will cause the Chargers some issues. This has the smell of an upset. Take the Lions, 24-23

Denver (plus 3) over Chicago: Former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio leads the Broncos against his former team. Denver’s a tough place to play, especially if you don’t do it often. And Fangio should have a good handle on Chicago’s personnel. There won’t be much scoring in this one. Take the Broncos, 20-17

Last Week: 3-2

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