Thoughts From The Pressbox

Dale Lolley with notes, quotes and anecdotes from New England following Steelers' 28-21 loss.

As Pittsburgh Steelers star wide receiver Antonio Brown walked past some fans on his way out of Gillette Stadium, he looked at them and said, "We'll see you again."

The Steelers feel like they beat themselves Thursday night in a 28-21 loss to the defending champion New England Patriots.

It always seems a bit cliche when teams talk about leaving points on the field. But in this case, the Steelers really did.

There were two missed field goals by new kicker Josh Scobee from 44 and 46 yards in the first half. There was a missed connection between Ben Roethlisberger and Darrius Heyward-Bey in the end zone in which DHB stepped out of bounds by about an inch. And there was a third-and-goal situation at the 6-inch line in which left tackle Kelvin Beachum and Alejandro Villanueva - the latter in the game as an extra blocker - both false-started when the Patriots shifted their defensive line.

Those plays cost the Steelers 11 points and were obvious turning points in a game in which the Steelers went toe to toe with New England.

"I'd feel terrible if they completely whipped our butt," said Steelers guard Ramon Foster. "There are a lot of things we did that shot ourselves in the foot that complemented their game plan. We can't give teams layups.

"I hate to quote Ike (Taylor) but Ike said this all the time, 'Nobody messes with the Steelers but the Steelers.' We messed ourselves up. That's what we did. They got good players, but if you watch this over again, it's a lot of things we did."

* Mike Tomlin was more than a little ticked that his team's headphones on the sidelines didn't work for much of the first half.

"That's always the case," Tomlin said of games in New England. "We were listening to the Patriots radio broadcast for the majority of the first half."

The Steelers made NFL officials aware of the situation and it was fixed for the second half.

The league issued a statement following the game.

"In the first quarter of tonight's game, the Pittsburgh coaches experienced interference in their headsets caused by a stadium power infrastructure issue, which was exacerbated by the inclement weather. The coaches communications equipment, including the headsets, is provided by the NFL for both clubs' use on game day. Once the power issue was addressed, the equipment functioned properly with no additional issues," wrote Michael Signora, Vice President of Football Communications.

Most of the players knew nothing about the issues, but it most certainly could have led to some of the communication mishaps the Steelers had, such as having 10 players on the field for Tom Brady's first TD pass to Rob Gronkowski.

"There was a lot of miscommunication," admitted safety Robert Golden, who was late getting over to cover Gronkowski on that play. "We just didn't execute. We have just got to be better."

* If I'd have said the Steelers would limit the Patriots to 28 points, outgain them 464-361 and have just one turnover, you'd have probably signed up for that as a Pittsburgh victory, right?

Much of the focus coming into this game was how the Patriots were going to hang 50 on the Steelers. That didn't happen. And yet people on social media were still complaining about the defense like Brady and Gronkowski aren't any good.

* There were a lot of line changes going on throughout this game, especially on defense as the Steelers tried to mix and match what the Patriots did.

"They did a lot of window dressing and then did something else out of it," said Steelers linebacker Jarvis Jones. "They would come out with four tight ends and then throw the ball. Or they would spread the field and try to run it."

All in all, the young defense did a fairly good job, especially when you consider Brady and company typically would hang 40-plus points on the Steelers.

* The reason Brown and company were so confident after this game that there's a good chance they'll see the Patriots again is because they know this offense is missing three major pieces. Think Le'Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant and Maurkice Pouncey might have made a difference out there?

DeAngelo Williams tore the New England defense up to the tune of 127 yards on 21 carries. He's good but he's no Bell, who might be the best back in the game.

Heyward-Bey had four catches for 58 yards, but Bryant is an emerging star - if he can keep his head on straight.

And Cody Wallace was solid in this game, although he did get beat for a sack in the first half.

As Roethlisberger said, "This is a small step in a long journey. We need to stay together and get better and I think we will do that."


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