The only way out of Hell is through it, and the Pittsburgh Steelers were certainly put through football Hell in the regular season opener on Sunday night, as they were dominated in a 30-point defeat at the hands of the New England Patriots.
The Steelers came in feeling as though they were prepared, at least schematically. They had the gameplans in place that they wanted to run, that they felt that they could run. They failed to run them, and then failed to adapt to that failure. That tends to be how you end up with a final score that reads 33-3, after all.
Said defensive captain Cameron Heyward, “we had a good gameplan, but we didn’t execute well. When you do that versus a Super Bowl-winning team, the performance isn’t good enough. We didn’t put in our best effort on primetime”.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had a typical Tom Brady-like performance against the Steelers, as he always does at home. With his three passing touchdowns on Sunday (all of 20 yards or more), he now has thrown 21 of them in six games against Pittsburgh while hosting. All of those games victories, of course.
So what’s the next step? It’s obvious, actually.
“Come to work tomorrow, it’s that simple”, Heyward said. “Take it day by day, look at our mistakes, and get ready for Seattle”.
Of all those one the field for the Steelers, while there were no standout performers, Heyward was certainly among the best that they had to offer on a night in which barely anything went as it was drawn up. T.J. Watt, for example, had a rush in which he hit Brady in the arm as he threw—and he still completed the pass for a positive play.
While rookie Devin Bush paced the game with 11 total tackles, Heyward had the second-most for either side with eight. He was also able to generate pressure, though he did not record any hits on the quarterback.
Getting to the next step will require a team effort, for sure, as this defense licks its wounds and prepares to respond against the Seattle Seahawks in the Steelers’ home debut. While there were a number of individual performances in which there were struggles, the most concerning issues were the collective failures, the breakdowns, the lack of communication. It’ll be a humbling film review this week heading into the next team.