So are we supposed to be encouraged by the fact that the Steelers only lost to the Patriots by seven points in Thursday night’s season opener?
Tom Brady is 4-0 against the Steelers at Gillette Stadium. The first three victories came by an average margin of 20 points.
Thursday’s 28-21 final score was deceptively close. Ben Roethlisberger threw a garbage-time touchdown pass to Antonio Brown with two seconds left.
Still, this was the most winnable of the Steelers’ four encounters against Brady in Foxboro.
Are the Patriots better than the Steelers? Yes. Not only can the Steelers not cover Rob Gronkowski, they couldn’t cover any of the Rob Gronkowski cardboard cutouts that adorn every Dunkin’ Donuts from New London to Bar Harbor.
But the Steelers could have overcome Gronkowski’s three touchdowns and Tom Brady’s 25-for-32 passing if it weren’t for their own incompetence.
The Patriots couldn’t stop the Steelers on the game’s opening drive.
But the Steelers sure could.
After Pittsburgh moved the ball 76 yards to the New England 24 on five plays, Todd Haley called a momentum-killing gadget play in which Brown was going to throw the ball. Brown couldn’t find a receiver and the Steelers lost eight yards on the play. Then came a holding penalty on Marcus Gilbert, and the Steelers eventually had to settle for a 44-yard field goal attempt that Josh Scobee missed.