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Pittsburgh Steelers respond to teammate's accusation that defense quit vs. Pats

Grades Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots Pittsburgh Steelers respond to teammate's accusation that defense quit vs. Pats
Elettra Stolfi | 29 Ottobre, 2016, 02:24

Namely a first-quarter interception in the end zone that wiped out a chance for the Steelers (4-3) to seize momentum. It just should have been so much more. The Patriots record for most rushing touchdowns in a season is 14 by Curtis Martin (in 1995 and 1996).

Looking at the numbers, there essentially was no reason for New England to send four pass rushers rather than three.

So he's basically doubled the workload, and more important for the Patriots, the production. Cornerback Eric Rowe trailed Darrius Heyward-Bey but had caught up by the time the ball arrived.

Momentum is an amusing thing, and even backup quarterbacks can find ways to shift it in their team's favor every now and then; that's exactly what Jones did with a 51-yard pass to Brown, followed by an exceptionally wonderful 14-yard pass to receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, who made an equally exceptional reception and feet plant in the back corner of the end zone to make it 14-7. There're guys that are just making plays.

Jones targeted Brown, circled in red, and safety Devin McCourty circled in blue, broke up the errant pass.

Yes, if Boswell made it, the Steelers would have been within eight points. There was no one open.

Defensive Line: While the Steelers' offensive line protected Jones, the Patriots' offensive line protected Brady, and Pittsburgh's defensive line couldn't get to him.

Quarterback: Landry Jones didn't do a awful job, but he didn't make any flashy plays either. It's stating the obvious, but you can't expect to beat New England while beating yourself to this extent, especially with your starting quarterback and best defensive player out with injuries.

- Chung slapped the ball away at the last moment.

Instead, he picked a bad time to coach one of his worst. He threw an errant pass to Brown. Adding Cam back to this defense last Sunday may have had different results, particularly in the running game.

Add in the fact that since his return, Brady has climbed to the top of the NFL's leaderboards in terms of accuracy, yards per attempt, TDs-to-INTs and passer rating, and the end result is an offense that's going to be monumentally hard for opponents to stop, so long as the chief actors remain healthy.

Compared to the tandem's first two games with Brady, when they had a combined 23 catches, 386 receiving yards and four touchdowns, the Steelers probably would have been happy beforehand if they knew they'd keep the duo to fewer than 100 total yards. His two deep completions went to Rob Gronkowski, and his lone deep incompletion was intended for Malcolm Mitchell.

Go figure: Blount was coming off his two lowest-yardage outputs of the season, and Edelman had a relatively quiet start with Brady. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert missed a third consecutive game with an ankle injury while Markus Wheaton missed his fourth game of the season with a shoulder injury. He went unpenalized and gave up just one hurry.

- Justin Coleman filled in for Logan Ryan as New England's third cornerback after Ryan gave up two first downs on third-down attempts in the second half.

The Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterback moved the ball. Jonathan Jones is valuable on special teams, so it's possible Cyrus Jones will continue to be a healthy scratch.

Running back LeGarrette Blount ended up with 127 yards and a couple of touchdowns on 24 carries. The Pats turned that drive into a Blount touchdown, so the Steelers' first coverage mistake was pricey.

- Blount had a nice bounce-back game against his former team. "That's the most disappointing for me because I know what this defense is capable of".

- Sheard played just 48 percent of snaps as the Patriots demanded their edge rushers to drop into coverage.

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