Bring it in guys. We need a group hug.
It’s still been a fun year. I’m going to talk about that tomorrow. Thanks for enjoying the ride, even if it’s ending on this sour note.
– Run defense: Things wilted a bit in the second half but you can’t blame a unit that held the New England Patriots’ to under 50 yards for most of the game. Stephon Tuitt was disruptive and Javon Hargrave had a strong day, credited with two TFLs.
Against most teams, making an offense one-dimensional would give them a fighting chance. But the Patriots are used to having to rely through the air so it barely bothered them.
– Offensive Line: Two bullets in and I’m already stretching things. The run game was extinct, mostly a product of losing Le’Veon Bell to a groin injury, but Ben Roethlisberger was given a clean pocket most of the game. At least this unit ended on a high note and I stand by the idea they could be the best starting five the Steelers have ever had.
– Jordan Berry: Still stretching like Gumby. Berry pinned the Patriots on two of his four punts, helping to flip the field. Not that it helped much in the end.
– Secondary: Think you can toss a blanket statement on this one. They were all terrible. Mike Mitchell bit hard on the flea flicker to Chris Hogan, who ran through the Steelers like they weren’t there. You can lump some of this on Keith Butler as well, I’m sure, though it’s a tough spot to be in with two rookies, including a rookie cornerback who has made more mistakes than people realize. Tried to stay true to his zone style but Tom Brady picked it all apart. As he often does.
– Cobi Hamilton/Eli Rogers: Pair of inexperienced receivers who showed it today. Rogers made some nice plays early, including a key third down catch near the top of the second half but his fumble seemed to be the miscue that broke the Steelers’ back.
Hamilton has made clutch catches all year long but he had a costly drop and went out of bounds in the end zone on another, negating a touchdown. A 4th down fade, which, granted, was tough to secure, put the cherry on think sewage-filled sundae.
Sammie Coates was not much better.
– Chris Boswell: In hindsight, one of the smaller concerns in this game. But the missed extra point early was costly and made the game feel that much farther apart.
– Dart Runs: Todd Haley can wear this one, though it’s debatable how much blame you want to put on him for the whole disaster. Haley tried his dart scheme in the second half but it’s been on tape enough for defenses to take it away. Which the Patriots did. At least twice. Didn’t do the running game any favors.
– Situational football: I’m starting to lump things together to make me feel a little less sad. Red zone defense and third down defense were both far from what they needed to be. As of the start of the 4th quarter, the Patriots were 10/12 on third down and they went 3-5 in the red zone. Patriots continued a level of dominance against the Steelers rarely seen by any team against another.