It's been difficult the last week listening to people talk football in this area and not hearing a conversation similar to this:
"Their running game stinks.''
"Yeah, but the passing game looks good.''
The conversation could be about either Penn State or the Steelers - which is ironic considering both teams' offenses are traditionally run-oriented.
Of the two, though, the Steelers should feel better about themselves. They, at least, played one of the best teams in the NFL and one of the best defenses, too.
With all the worrying among Steelers Nation after last Thursday's 13-10 opening win over the Tennessee Titans, one should note that not too many teams will be able to run on the Titans this year.
That's not to say the Steelers don't have problems with their running game - Willie Parker may not be completely healthy, the line was a problem all of last year and is working in a new starter (Trai Essex at right guard), and they may be missing fullback/tight end Sean McHugh (injured reserve) more than one might think.
The Titans game, though, at least showed the Steelers right away where they need the most improvement.
They'll need to improve this week because the Chicago Bears have a strong front four on defense and may keep the Steelers from being effective on the ground again.
A better gauge will be in Week 3. If the Steelers have trouble running the football against the Cincinnati Bengals, it will be more alarming.
About the Bears
n The Steelers have won just once in 12 tries in Chicago but have only played there three times since their Super Bowl run of the 1970s.
n Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw four interceptions last week, but if the Bears' secondary didn't break down on one long pass, he would have beaten the Packers in Green Bay.
n Soldier Field's grass playing surface was re-sodded on Tuesday and could be a factor in Sunday's game.
NFL Week No. 2
Game of the week: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys, 8:20 p.m. Sunday (NBC). This game will get all the hype, but Baltimore-San Diego is just as intriguing.
Upset special: Cleveland (+3) at Denver.
Fantasy tip: Don't get too discouraged with your Houston Texans. They'll probably struggle again this week, but they're a team that has started slow in the past.
Buck Frank can be reached at 946-7461 or firstname.lastname@example.org.