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Steelers 25, Patriots 17: Postgame report

Posted by Greg A. Bedard  October 31, 2011 12:44 AM

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PITTSBURGH – Well, that didn’t go very well.

The Patriots fell to 5-2 with a 25-17 loss to the Steelers at Heinz Field.

Let’s take a quick look back:

WHY DID THE PATRIOTS LOSE?

The Patriots’ defense was savaged by Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and before the offense could get their bearings against more man coverage being played by the Steelers, the Patriots trailed 10-0. You need to force more than one punt with 28 seconds left to overcome that.

INJURY REPORT

DE Shaun Ellis (ribs) did not return.
WR Deion Branch (unknown) returned.

THREE THINGS TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT


  1. Kevin Faulk’s return: He showed live legs and a definite value to this team, but I think it’s going to take a little time to fit him in properly to the offense. He seemed a little out of place, which should happen because the offense has really transformed since he was hurt early last season.

  2. Red-zone defense: The Patriots’ defense did hold the Steelers to four field goal attempts (three made). If they didn’t do that, the game would have been a massacre.

  3. Few opponents can do this: There are only a few teams with the right makeup to go up and down on the Patriots’ defense – very good quarterback with multiple weapons and an offensive coordinator not afraid to keep throwing -- so they’re still going to win a lot of games, even some playoff games.

THREE THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT

  1. Talent disparity on defense: It’s now abundantly clear that the Patriots don’t have enough good pass rushers on the defensive line and/or blitzing linebackers, and the secondary is extremely limited talent-wise. If Devin McCourty was playing at a high level, it might be different. But right now it’s Kyle Arrington and Patrick Chung, and then a huge drop off.
  2. Offensive line: I think when this game is dissected that the offensive line will not look good. Between penalties, breakdowns and just being physically overmatched, the Steelers took it to the Patriots up front.
  3. Lack of a deep passing game: The Steelers seemed to take after the Jets and Cowboys by trying to flood the short and intermediate areas with defenders. That’s where Brady, who throws about 70 percent of his passes less than 10 yards, likes to live. Without a legitmate deep receiver (hello Ocho), the Patriots need Gronkowski and Hernandez to get deep. But teams know that and are playing them very physically. Patriots will need to do some tinkering with this to get it solved. Other teams are going to try this. Of course, many aren’t that good on defense.

THREE STARS

  1. Tom Brady: He can only play with what he is given, and he still completed 68.6 percent of his passes and threw two touchdowns.
  2. Rob Gronkowski: He got thumped around pretty good but still had seven receptions for 94 yards.
  3. Nobody elseli>

UP NEXT

Vs New York Giants (5-2) at 4:15 p.m., Gillette Stadium
Result: Beat Dolphins 20-17. Eli Manning completed 31 of 45 passes for 345 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions as Giants overcame an 11-point deficit against the winless Dolphins.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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