NFL from the Sidelines

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O-R Sports reporter Dale Lolley gets you the insider scoop on the NFL.

After hobnobbing around the NFL in the press boxes and sidelines, sports reporter Dale Lolley will let you know the insider scoop. Dale can also be heard on the Steelers radio network pre-game show prior to every game. Follow him on Twitter at dlolleyor.

Post Steelers vs. Bears thoughts

September 24, 2017
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, right, talks to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) during the second half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The Steelers aren’t playing good football right now.

We’ve known that for a few weeks, but it reared its ugly head in the terms of a loss Sunday at Chicago, 23-17, in overtime.

Offensively, they just aren’t a sum of their parts right now.

Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t been sharp in a game yet this season. In one series Sunday, he underthrew a ball to 5-10 receiver Antonio Brown that Brown somehow caught. Then, on the next play, he overthrew 6-5 receiver Martavis Bryant.

For all of the talk about this being an explosive offense, it’s been anything but.

Maybe the Steelers were distracted for this one. That will certainly be the argument of many.

But it might be time to start being concerned a little about the play of Roethlisberger, who hasn’t had any of that old magic of late - at least not when he’s throwing the ball to anyone but Brown.

Roethlisberger seems to be forcing a lot of passes to the other guys instead of just finding the open guy.

@ A lot has been and will be made about the Steelers choosing to not come out of the tunnel for the singing of the national anthem.

In this case, I have to agree with the players.

The Steelers have not had any players who have participated in any of the protests that have gone on in the league in the past season and a half. Yet they felt they were painted with the same brush as those guys by President Donald Trump.

So they chose not to participate at all.

Some will view that as a protest in its own right. Others will look at it as the team trying to stay unified.

Here’s an idea.

How about we all stop pontificating about each other’s patriotism or lack thereof.

Even better, how about we stop playing the national anthem before all sporting events, period.

I love the Olympics and one of the things I love about it is that when someone from the U.S. wins, they play the anthem and it’s a culmination of a lot of hard work. And those athletes get to show their love of country on a world stage.

But do we really need to play the anthem before pee wee football, basketball and baseball games? To me, it cheapens the meaning of the anthem.

And it’s people wrapping themselves in - sometimes - fake patriotism.

I’m all for playing the anthem - at major sporting events such as playoff games, etc. But doing it before every sporting event desensitizes people to the meaning of the song.

And don’t get me started on people standing for “America the Beautiful,” or worse, that awful Lee Greenwood song. They are not the national anthem and should not be treated as such.

I’m as patriotic as anyone. In this case, I felt the Steelers did the right thing.

@ I always find it strange when the media watch the singing of the anthem through binoculars to see who is protesting so they can complain about who is protesting.

@ Why does the Steelers’ run defense always seem to have one of these games like this where it just can’t seem to stop anything?

Then, the coaching staff will crack down on things and guys will talk about “staying in their gaps,” and the team will fix things.

Chicago had 114 yards rushing in the first half on 20 carries Sunday. Then the Bears had 34 yards on their next 14 carries in the third and fourth quarters.

That’s good run defense.

Then it all fell apart again in the overtime.

The cornerbacks did a poor job of getting off blocks and when they did, they seemed to take bad angles.

I’m not saying Artie Burns and Joe Haden were the reason the Steelers lost this game. Heck, they allowed just one reception by a receiver all day.

But when a team starts popping off big runs to the outside, you have to look at the guys on the edge.

@ Roethlisberger isn’t playing well. Neither is the offensive line.

It was missing right tackle Marcus Gilbert to start this one, which is a big loss. He’s as good as any right tackle in the league.

And then Ramon Foster went out in the first half with a thumb injury.

Chris Hubbard and B.J. Finney are fine replacements. But they are replacements.

@ I was kind of surprised Stephon Tuitt didn’t play in this game.

He practiced Thursday and Friday last week but then was held out.

I have to believe he might have made a difference in this one.

@ As bad as this loss seems - and it was a bad loss - it’s not the end of the world.

It’s a loss to an NFC team. And there were plenty of bad losses to go around in the league Sunday.

It just shows that it’s never easy to go on the road and win in the NFL.

@ I’m sure plenty of people will disagree with my stance on the anthem. That’s fine.

That’s why we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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