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'You don't wanna see that mess'

Outside linebacker T.J. Watt registered three sacks against the Bears and emerged frustrated.

Defensive coordinator Keith Butler can relate.

But there isn't a great deal either one can do about it.

"It seems like the (offensive) tackles are leaving early on every single down," Watt insisted following Monday night's 29-27 survival of Chicago. "I don't know what to do about that."

Butler doesn't either, other than to live with and try to make the best of what for defenders has become a disturbing trend, the allowing of offensive tackles to begin retreating into their pass-protection sets ahead of the snap.

"They're not gonna call things like that," Butler said today. "I wish they would. If it's obvious they will call it but if it's not obvious they're not.

"They're trying to get the jump. This is an offensive league. If you look at what's happened over the years, how far can you block downfield? Well, it seems like it's getting more and more every year. We can't do anything about that. The referees have gotta decide whether they're off or on and they're right, automatically right, so there's nothing we can do about it."

Former NFL referee and current CBS officiating analyst Gene Steratore maintains Watt has a point.

"He's right, it's being abused," Steratore said on Tuesday morning during his weekly appearance on WDVE-FM. "A flinch is a flinch. He's legitimate in that observation.

"The tackles and interior line are getting a jump. I saw that throughout the league last week, at least half a dozen of them. That's a valid point. They are getting a jump."

It was perceived as obvious by Watt on Monday night.

"I try to let the officials know," he said. "That's really all I can do."

Added Butler: "If you're an outside edge rusher you don't wanna see that mess, you think it's unfair. There are a lot of things that go on offensively that I think are unfair but I keep my mouth shut about it because it's the way the league is. That's the way it's gonna be.

"We gotta play within the rules. If they keep jumping they'll call 'em, they'll call 'em. We gotta count on them to call 'em."

Head coach Mike Tomlin is more philosophical about than frustrated by such developments, and suggested Watt adopted a similar approach.

"'Don't seek comfort' would be my advice to him, and control what he can control," Tomlin said Tuesday. "He plays left outside linebacker for us and plays at an extreme high level. That would be my suggestion to him.

"There are things that transpire in games from time to time that are troublesome, but that's just life, and particularly at this level. I don't worry too much about it."

Other subjects addressed by Butler today included:

The Steelers getting surprised on Monday night by the Bears' use of the Wildcat offense: "Maybe one play out of every dadgum 500 is a Wildcat? You gotta decide what you're gonna spend your time on trying to defend and the type of things you might get. And sometimes it's a guessing game. Obviously, we gotta be more prepared than that and have a call that maybe can help us."

Resisting the temptation to take the 0-8 Lions lightly: "They've kinda played well and then kinda had an off day, played well, kinda had an off day. Well, they had an off day against the Eagles the last time they played (a 44-6 loss on Oct. 31). They've also had a bye week. I think we're gonna get their best football.

"There are no I-AAA teams in the National Football League. Everybody is good, it just so happens they happen to be 0-8. They had a chance to win a lot of the games. If you look at the Rams game (a 28-19 loss on Oct. 24 in Los Angeles), the Rams are a good football team. They were close, real close. About as close as us and the Bears, too close.

"There are no chumps in this league. We gotta play and play well to get this next win because we're gonna get their best game, no doubt in my mind."