Offense poised to make it whole new ballgame

Mike Prisuta sees the offense coming through in a big way, because, after last season, Ben Roethlisberger expects to be great.

Everybody's thinking defense this week, from repeated fourth-quarter TDs, to the challenge that awaits Ike Taylor in the form of "alien" wide receiver Calvin Johnson, to exactly what it is Larry Foote might have to say to his former teammates.

I'm thinking offense.

I'm still convinced most of what's been nagging the defense has been schematic in nature. Offenses aren't holding the ball long enough to get their quarterbacks sacked, period.

The one that did this season, San Diego, wound up underachieving statistically and paid a price for scoring three TDs against the Steelers.

While the Chargers were being held almost 100 yards below their average per game passing (235-315.7) and over 100 yards below their average per game in total offense (251-382), the Steelers' offense was finding a gear not often achieved recently.

Their 497 total net yards surpassed any figure amassed in 2008 and their 38 points matched last season's season highs (Sept. 7 against Houston and Oct. 19 at Cincinnati). And still they left a little on the field.

"I catch my two balls (that were dropped), we even have more yards," Hines Ward observed post-San Diego.

No, the Chargers didn't offer much resistance.

And no, it won't be like this every week.

But if they keep their foot on the gas pedal, these Steelers will remain capable of inflicting damage the likes of which they haven't for three seasons.

It's been since 2006, when they ranked No. 7 in total offense, that the Steelers brandished a Top 10 offense.

Appropriately enough, it's No. 7 that has me thinking this season can and will be different.

Ben Roethlisberger has never been more of a quarterback and less of a guy who keeps plays alive and then improvises a big gain with his athleticism. He's been that because his offensive line has allowed him to become that and because the Bruce Arians administration has cultivated that from Roethlisberger.

He's seeing and thinking the game like Brady or Peyton and he's throwing the ball like Brees.

And that's a potentially devastating combination.

The explanation from the coaching staff is that such a transformation in Roethlisberger is as obvious on the stat sheet (he's completing an NFL-best 73.2 percent) as it was apparent in OTAs.

The theory in the locker room is that in the wake of last season's multiple comebacks and Super Bowl success, Roethlisberger now expects to be great, and that he now expects his teammates to be great with him.

He's a better quarterback, a better player, a better leader.

He has the necessary weapons available, and might soon have a one-two punch at running back included at his disposal.

And because of all that the Steelers are evolving into a more balanced and more diverse team than initially anticipated, one that's capable of winning in a variety of ways.

I'm thinking the offense will have a great deal to do with the wins beginning to stack on subsequent Sundays.

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