The New England Patriots were relentless in defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 55-31 Sunday. The loss is the Steelers’ sixth in eight games played this season.
And it looks like the adjectives used for the Steelers’ defense, a defense that has been perennially in the top ten statistically for over a decade, can be placed, this season, on an epitaph, not a Lombardi Trophy.
When a team scores 31 points and amounts 479 total yards, that team usually wins the game.
Tom Brady, for the majority of his career, looks at those numbers and thinks, “Eh, that’ll get them close.” And that was the story today.
The Patriots came into this game “struggling” offensively despite owning a 6-2 record. Those struggles disappeared against an obviously aging Pittsburgh defense.
The game was not without its bright spots, however. The Steelers overcame a 14-point halftime deficit midway through the 3rd quarter. Steelers’ quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, was on-fire, finding Jerricho Cotchery in the endzone twice. Momentum was on the Steelers’ side.
But, like he has done to the Steelers throughout his whole career, Tom Brady took the momentum back.
After Cotchery’s second score tied the game, the Patriots scored 17-unanswered points, the Steelers were punched in the forehead, and the game was over.
Let’s face it, folks. The Steelers are just a bad team.
MVP – Jerricho Cotchery
Cotchery gets forgotten in a wide-receiver stable filled with sprinters like Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. But he showed his mettle Sunday, catching 7-balls for 96-yards and 3-touchdowns.
Consideration: Ben Roethlisberger. Look, Roethlisberger played extremely well Sunday despite his three-turnovers. He is most likely the only quarterback in the NFL able to survive behind the Steelers’ offensive line.
Roethlisberger threw for 400-yards and 4-touchdowns. He was also sacked 5-times. Imagine what this guy could do with consistent line-play.
LVP – William Gay
It is easy to pick on Gay. He seems to always be picked-on by opposing quarterbacks, too. But he has actually played quite well this season.
Except on Sunday.
Gay was victim to a number of big-New England grabs, including two-touchdowns by WR Aaron Dobson.
X-Factor – Steelers’ Defense
Usually the X-Factor denotes a reason the Steelers succeeded in a particular area in a particular game, even a loss.
This week, however, it is too difficult to neglect just how awful the Steelers’ defense looked Sunday against the Patriots.
The once proud unit surrendered a Steelers’ record 55-points against and looked flat, old and outmatched. Pittsburgh had no answer for New England tight-end Rob Gronkowski (9-143-1), WR Aaron Dobson (5-130-2) or WR Danny Amendola (4-122-1).
Sure, the secondary is old – safeties Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu combined age is 900, it’s no wonder they can’t stop a passing game like New England’s…
But wait, the Patriots also scored 3-touchdowns on 197-yards rushing. Oh.
Key Stat – 601 total yards
The most ever given up by a Steeler defense, ever. The Patriots threw and ran the length of the in-play football field 6.1 times. Enough said.
Tweet of the Game
Tomlin has to clean house. Defense is old. Offense is out of sync. When Dobson burns Ike Taylor AND Ryan Clark, what else is there to say?
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) November 4, 2013
I love how the steelers make you wait around all game before they die. It's like being bitten by a Komodo dragon.
— RandyBaumann WDVE (@DVERandy) November 3, 2013
What This Loss Means
There is very little light left at the end of the Steelers’ tunnel for the 2013-14 campaign. And the Steelers have extremely important questions to address going forward.
Regardless, the Steelers can only play out the schedule and hope some gears will align and get back on track.
Even while losing, the Steelers can show their fans that they will never give up and fight hard until the final whistle.
And in return, Steelers fans will show their team that they would rather watch this team lose every week, than have to watch any other team win.
November 10, 2013 1:00 pm ET
Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers
Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA