By the time the game had ended, the Steelers were outscored 31-7 as Tom Brady once again made Dick LeBeau’s defense his personal play land.
In the loss, the Steelers set dubious marks for points allowed and total yards allowed. Hard to believe that in the Steelers’ first forty years of existence they never gave up 55 points before. Those were some bad teams prior to the glory years of the 1970’s but no, they never got torched for 55 points.
Mike Tomlin has a much bigger challenge ahead of him this week than trying to make sure Buffalo doesn’t hang a double-nickel on his defense as the Pats did. His team quit today and he knows it.
He addressed the effort in his post-game comments and promised that those things will be taken care of but it isn’t that easy. At 2-6, this team is not making the playoffs yet it’s a team loaded with veterans of playoff battles. Being able to sell effort to those guys is far easier said than done.
The quitting may have occurred earlier than it appeared as the defense continued its season-long routine of missing tackles and missing assignments.
Tomlin will have no problem selling effort to his young players. They’re under contract and they’re still new to this whole ‘NFL thing’ anyway. Plus they recognize how difficult it is to find playing time so there will be no quit in them despite the poor record. If there is, they won’t see the field.
While Tom Brady’s pass down the sideline to Aaron Dobson sailed over the heads of Ike Taylor and Ryan Clark to put the Patriots back up by three scores again I couldn’t help but feel a door slam shut. It wasn’t just the door slamming closed on this particular game either. It felt very much like the door closing on the careers of Taylor, Clark and even Dick LeBeau.
It isn’t so much they got beat, but the fact they had clearly given up on the game thinking the Pats were just going to run the ball and get out of Dodge. It was a play that probably epitomized much of the whole game and season but does it really matter?
The season is essentially lost but Mike Tomlin faces a test bigger than getting his team a win. He now has to win back their effort and that won’t be easy.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 630pm ET talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.