Rapid Reaction: Patriots Not Ready for Steelers

Derek Havens
October 30, 2011 at 09:18pm ET

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The Patriots lost their second game of the season on Sunday afternoon, losing 25 - 17 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. This was a game New England deserved to lose, as the team played their worst game in recent memory. After such a disappointing loss, there is certainly a lot to digest and discuss. Here are a few thoughts and observations on the game. -

Kevin Faulk's return was on of the few bright spots in the Patriots week eight loss to Pittsburgh. (FILE:Icon/SMI)

- This game was incredibly frustrating to watch if you were a Patriots fan. For starters, the defense was absolutely abused all afternoon. With all of the game planning put into Mike Wallace this week, Heath Miller seemed to be forgotten about, which is very uncharacteristic for a Bill Belichick coached defense.

- The Steelers had no problem moving the ball throughout the game. Pittsburgh did not even punt until 28 seconds left in the fourth quarter. I thought New England did a decent job protecting the run, but their soft zone coverage was painful to watch. Bill Belichick will have to face plenty of questions about the defense's disappointing performance after releasing veteran Leigh Bodden on Saturday.

- Kevin Faulk was one of the few positives from Sunday's game. So much for gradually integrating the 13 year veteran back into the offense, he led the team in touches with 6 carries and 5 catches. Once again he displayed his value to this team in every aspect of his game; a true class act.

- Tackling continues to be an area this team needs to work on moving forward. Such a basic football fundamental should not be this big of an issue in week 8 of the season. I expected Belichick and the coaching staff to focus on this throughout the bye week, but it seems like many other issues, there is still work to do.

- Shaun Ellis went to the locker room at the end of the first half and did not return. The veteran defensive end had his ribs evaluated by trainers on the sideline before leaving the field.

- This was one of more physical games I have seen this season. This type of game, and lower scoring contest, certainly played into the Steelers hand. I thought the Patriots hung around during the game, but Pittsburgh's superior play and New England's lack of execution led to defeat.

- This team is built around the offense, and when they struggle, the team struggles. The offensive line played poorly and had Tom Brady under duress for a good portion of the game. New England could not establish their running game and the great balance we had seen for the past few weeks was non-existent. It seemed the Steelers offense was on the field for the majority of the game and the Pats could not get into a rhythm. Definitely not how you want the game to go from a New England perspective.

Overall, the Patriots have a ton of work to do and are not playing well enough to go deep into the playoffs - plain and simple. However, it is easy to be reactionary after the team losses such a a tough game, but there is no need to lose hope. There is still nine weeks left in the season and the Pats have time to improve. Hopefully we see some of that improvement take place next week when the team returns home to face the New York Giants.

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