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Takeaways from Steelers 27-24 loss to Tampa Bay in Week 4

It was a good game in a lot of ways, but the ending left a bit to be desired.

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Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Ya know what's great about this team? The ability to snuff out a 10-zip deficit on three dominating drives, backed up by a defense that will eventually figure things out. After those first two drives, the Steelers took control of the game and it looked like the end result would be, in fact, close to the 38-10 thrashing the Steelers of 2010 put on the Bucs.

But they just couldn't hold out. Some of that is due to a total lack of discipline (13 penalties...just repeat that to yourself a few times before we start getting into coaching matters). Major penalties in all three phases of the game. How do you realistically get past that?

Sure, this is where the fire 'n brimstone comes out, and threats of job loss are cast around as if it's a deliberate choice. The Steelers are not going to bench Antonio Brown or Le'Veon Bell in the middle of a competitive game.

Or will they? At some point, the same, tired rhetoric is going to need to be amplified. A few targets to Markus Wheaton for a quarter and a few rushes with (ironically) LeGarrette Blount isn't going to do any more damage than taunting and celebration penalties will. And at least it sends a message to the rest of the team. You want your playing time bonuses? Knock it the eff off and play the game.

As for the handsy grab-assy stuff...knock it the eff off and play the game.

Upon second viewing

Cortez Allen wasn't as bad as I had initially expected. He certainly wasn't great. There comes a point when teams are going to throw 15 times at a player, yards are going to be gained. But he's just so far away from the play on so many of these completions, it's baffling as to what to do for him.

At the very least, William Gay didn't play well either, but he got around the ball here and there. What's this going to take?

The Steelers' run defense was pretty solid, even with the coverage shortcomings. It was really just a stretch of poor coverage masking an otherwise outstanding game all around. That doesn't help anything but the defense got picked on only late in the game when the offense failed to score. In a tight game, it came down to a few plays. The Steelers made them early in the game, but didn't late.

Running and run defense

One of the many things that will get lost in the blame and caustic comments regarding the Steelers losing this game (as opposed to Tampa Bay winning it) is a sound defensive performance from Tampa Bay against the run. They made Le'Veon Bell work for every yard he got (and even took 15 back after a taunting penalty). Bell ran a solid game. Perhaps a missed cut or one too many cuts here and there, but Tampa Bay pursued him with excellent discipline, and tackled well. That's a very fast sideline-to-sideline defense, and Lavonte David is a superstar in the making.

It wasn't expected for the Steelers to rush for 160 yards a game, roughly where they were before the Week 4 game started. It'll still be a weapon this season, though. For what Kelvin Beachum lacked in pass protection, he did a good job against the run. Making a complete 180 from where he started, Marcus Gilbert played a strong game. Something of a different note can be said for Cody Wallace, who struggled quite a bit at times against his former team. He also made a few nice plays here and there, and the Steelers' offensive line will continue teasing us with such high-and-low performances. There will be games in which they will thoroughly dominate their opponents, and there will be times Roethlisberger gets hit 10 times.

Just stock up on Rolaids now.

The run defense, though, is something positive here. The Bucs appear to have the same kinds of growing pains working against them in terms of putting their offensive line together. Evan Dietrich-Smith, the ex-Packers center, was confused on the Bucs' silent count in the second half. While the entire team and sideline was yelling at him to snap the ball, he sat motionless, eventually forcing the Bucs to take a five-yard penalty for delay of game. Logan Mankins and Anthony Collins, the Bucs' offensive left side, were brought in to be the outstanding veterans they've been in their careers. But neither was good in this game.

The Steelers could have gotten more from their defensive line but, overall, their effort against the run was solid. It's coming together a bit, especially from where it started.

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