Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Unhealthy Performance Toothless Defense, Not Backup QB Landry Jones, Proves to Be Problem That Can't Be Overcome as New England Runs the Show Patriots 27, Steelers 16

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Unhealthy Performance Toothless Defense, Not Backup QB Landry Jones, Proves to Be Problem That Can't Be Overcome as New England Runs the Show Patriots 27, Steelers 16

Article excerpt

We pause now as the Steelers get a chance to lick their wounds. They have off next week and do not get a chance to lose three games in a row until Nov. 6, when they play at Baltimore.

Somehow, after losing to New England, 27-16, Sunday one week after Miami upset the Steelers, they remain in first place in the AFC North Division at 4-3 because no one else in the division seems interested in winning it. The Ravens, who lost Sunday to the New York Jets o slip to 3-4, get a chance to knot everything at .500 in two weeks.

Until then, what the Steelers need to do is quite obvious.

"Getting healthy," guard Ramon Foster declared. "Health is going to be the biggest part of the second part of the season. We have to get guys back. It's good to have everyone at full force."

The standard then really isn't the standard. They played New England without Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Heyward, Markus Wheaton and Marcus Gilbert. And that's just for starters. They're hoping tight end Ladarius Green starts to practice soon, that Sammie Coates' hand heals, that Bud Dupree returns, that . . .

"Not sure what's going to happen with Ladarius, but having him back would be great for us," Foster said. "Ben, Cam, you name it."

Maybe then they will be able to stop the run again. On a day in which the Steelers introduced 20 of their alumni at halftime, LeGarrette Blount had a homecoming of his own. Their former halfback dropped 127 yards rushing and two touchdowns on them. This came one week after Jay Ajayi beat them up for 204 yards.

But that was in the coaches' game plan against the Patriots.

"We acknowledge schematically that we were willing to bleed a little bit in the run game in an effort to minimize big plays," coach Mike Tomlin said. "In doing so, we would have to come off blocks and make tackles - not enough of that for us to be successful."

Landry Jones played well in place of the injured Roethlisberger. He completed 29 of 47 for 281 yards and one touchdown to Darrius Heyward-Bey. But there was that early interception he threw into the end zone from New England's 16. It came on their second series, right after Jarvis Jones punctuated perhaps his best game by forcing a fumble and recovering it.

"I thought he did some good things," Tomlin said. "The red-zone interception was unfortunate, but it wasn't going to be about Landry Jones' play for us."

No, because others helped him lose. He threw a second touchdown pass to Heyward-Bey that would have brought them back from 14 behind into a tie in the second quarter, except Chris Hubbard was called for holding. Two plays later, Chris Boswell missed a 42-yard field goal.

"You can't do that against good people," Tomlin said, referring to playing against the now 6-1 Patriots.

Despite it all, New England led by just 14-13 with a little over 21 minutes left in the game when Tom Brady decided enough was enough. …

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