Dale Lolley's Notebook IV

Notes, quotes, anecdotes from Heinz Field following the Steelers' stunning loss to the Bucs.

The headline on Jim Wexell's preview for the Steelers' game Sunday against Tampa Bay read, "Beware the lowly, embarrassed Bucs.

My preview in the Observer-Reporter said the Steelers couldn't afford to overlook Tampa Bay.

There were questions all week long to players about how to avoid a letdown following a big win last week at Carolina.

And less than two minutes into Sunday's game, Ben Roethlisberger had been sacked twice and Tampa Bay held a 7-0 lead. Three minutes after that, the Bucs led 10-0.

The Steelers recovered from that start to take a 17-10 lead, but the quick start by Tampa Bay, which was coming off an all-time shellacking at the hands of Atlanta, let the Bucs know they had a chance.

And that was all Tampa Bay needed. Actually, it needed two chances at the end, and the Steelers provided those as well.

As a result of the 27-24 defeat, the Steelers find themselves at 2-2. It beats the heck out of last season's 0-4 start, but not what anyone expected after the resounding win at Carolina.

Many people, including this writer, were looking at the schedule and thinking the Steelers would be 4-1 heading into a rematch at Cleveland in a couple of weeks.

"It's frustrating letting a game you come back in and feel like you have control of slip out of your fingers," said defensive end Brett Keisel. "The first quarter of the season is over. We did some good things. We did some not-so-good things. There's a lot we can do better, and we need to address that."

The troubling thing is that in both home games, the Steelers had opportunities with their most talented unit, their offense, to either run out the clock or put a game away with another score. And it failed on both occasions.

We knew the defense was going to have its issues. And that was before it lost three starters to injury last week at Carolina.

The offense needs to account for that. But because of penalties, missed assignments or dropped passes - we saw them all Sunday - it has a drive or dead spot here or there that are killers.

@ Asking this defense - or any in the league, for that matter - to come up with two stops in the closing moments is just too much.

Tampa Bay had five consecutive incompletions - not counting a spike - inside the Pittsburgh 14 before Mike Glennon finally connected with Vincent Jackson on the game-winner.

@ Jason Worilds had two pressures and James Harrison drew a holding penalty that was declined. But the Steelers three outside linebackers, including Arthur Moats, had a combined two tackles and no sacks in this game.

There was one more combined hurry by that group than by Cam Thomas.

@ Punter Brad Wing and placekicker Shaun Suisham sat at their lockers for a long time following this one, with Wing looking like someone had stolen his dog.

Suisham was trying to console Wing, whose atrocious 29-yard punt from the shadow of his own goal posts gave Tampa Bay the ball back at the Pittsburgh 46 with 40 seconds remaining.

But if Suisham had hit a 50-yard field goal at the end of the first half, as Tampa Bay placekicker Patrick Murray did in the first quarter when he somehow willed an ugly 50-yarder between the posts, the game would have been tied at the end.

@ Antonio Brown is a great player and is perhaps the Steelers' best playmaker. But he's got to know he can't draw an unsportsmanlike penalty for an end zone celebration.

And he had a couple of uncharacteristic drops in this one, including one on a beautifully designed flea-flicker that could have put this game away.

"I should have brought down that catch on that flea-flicker play and maybe it would have been a difference in the outcome of the game," Brown said.

It most certainly would have. The Steelers led 24-20 at the time Brown allowed the pass from Roethlisberger to bounce off his fingertips a few short steps from the spot where he caught a pass against his helmet against the Ravens in the 2010 playoffs.

Had Brown hauled in Sunday's pass, he might have scored to make it 31-20. Game over, thanks for watching.

@ That's not to put this loss on Brown, to be sure. He had a great game, catching seven passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns. But he could have had a monster game had he hauled in that pass.

And the Steelers would have had another victory.

@ There were quite a few people hoping that Cody Wallace would get the start in this game over Ramon Foster and continue to hold down the left guard spot even when Foster is healthy.

Still feel that way?

@ Kelvin Beachum had a tough day in this one as well. It was one of the rare bad days for a guy who has been pretty solid overall.

This loss dropped the Steelers to 10-6 in 16 games with Beachum at left tackle over the past two seasons.

@ The word undisciplined was being tossed around the locker room a lot after the Steelers drew a season-high (or should that be worst?) 13 penalties for 125 yards.

There are some issues with discipline when guys think its OK to draw celebration or taunting penalties. But false starts, offsides and other such penalties point to an issue with focus, not that having an issue with focus is any better.


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