PITTSBURGH – The Steelers’ lengthy preseason is over. Finally.

True, the defending AFC champions improved to 5-2 after a 32-20 win over Arizona on Sunday. Yet even they admit they haven’t exactly been dominant against a largely mediocre schedule.
For an organization that lives by the mantra, “the standard is the standard,” there is a definite sense the Steelers aren’t quite the Steelers yet.

“It’s good to get the wins, especially going on the road like this and to win, but for us on offense specifically, we want to continue improving,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said after throwing for 361 yards and three scores. “We are not satisfied with where we are at. We feel like we can still improve and that’s good. We need to have that mentality.”

They better.

Pittsburgh begins a daunting two-week stretch on Sunday against rested New England (5-1), which is 6-1 against the Steelers when Tom Brady is under center. For an organization that likes to save its best football for December and beyond, there’s a sense of urgency in late-October.

“I’ve been here for most of those losses, (Brady) has had our number,” linebacker Larry Foote said.


“We have to try and correct that this Sunday.”

Particularly if the Steelers want to put to rest the “old, slow … over” mantra that’s dogged them since a season-opening loss to Baltimore, who comes to Heinz Field on Nov. 6.

Pittsburgh has righted itself with solid if not always spectacular play. And while they’re hardly complaining about a three-game winning streak, they also know the next two weeks are a significant step up in quality.

New England and Baltimore have combined for nine wins. The five teams the Steelers have beaten have combined for just six victories entering Monday.

It’s why Coach Mike Tomlin didn’t get too high even after watching his team take command late in the third quarter after the Cardinals closed to within 17-14. Pittsburgh scored the game’s next 15 points to put the game away.

Roethlisberger hit Emmanuel Sanders for a 4-yard touchdown pass, the defense forced a safety when LaMarr Woodley pressured Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb into intentional grounding and Shaun Suisham kicked a couple of field goals as the Steelers finished with a flair they’ve lacked at times.

“Hopefully that is a window to what we are capable of as a 53-man unit,” Tomlin said.

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