In a 39-26 thrashing, the Patriots absolutely dominated the Steelers. The game was never really in question, as New England scored first and held a 20-point lead at the half.
Tom Brady threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns, completing almost 70 percent of all of his passes. A typically stout Steelers defense could never seem to pressure or even hurry Tom Brady. In fact, Brady was not sacked a single time the entire game.
Yet, perhaps, this was expected. After all, the Pittsburgh Steelers have allowed over 250 passing yards per game this season, a statistic which puts them amongst the bottom feeders of the league in passing defense.
Still, the top ranked rushing defense had to stop New England right?
BenJarvus Green-Ellis and the New England running backs combined for 100 yards against the Steelers on just over 20 carries. The Steelers, who on average allow just 63.2 rushing yards per game, could not seem to plug the holes created by the Patriots offensive line.
It is not only the defense that struggled. There is plenty of blame to be spread around the Steelers' locker room.
The slow start did not help. At home, Mike Tomlin should have had his team fired up. They were playing the rival New England Patriots. The game could foreshadow an eventual playoff matchup.
However, the Steelers came out flat as a pancake. In the first quarter, three possessions led to three punts on just five total yards of offense. The second quarter was not much better and the Steelers had just 120 total offensive yards and three points at the half.
Falling behind early forced the Steelers to turn to the pass. Rashard Mendenhall, who had some success carrying the ball with a 4.5 yards-per-carry average, had only eleven carries throughout the game.
Forcing Ben Roethlisberger to throw just under 50 times, the typically porous New England secondary was prepared for the pass and picked off Big Ben for a touchdown to ice the game.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are better than this. Roethlisberger picked apart the Patriots secondary for most of the night. Mendenhall, when he was given the ball, did move downfield effectively.
It was simply momentum that lost the game for the Steelers. Five sacks by the Patriots defense created long third downs that the Steelers could not climb out of. The 20-point halftime lead was simply too much to overcome.
This was a game that the Steelers could have won. The blame falls on Mike Tomlin for the bad loss.