Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense sputtered for much of the evening and stalled in the red zone, on the rare occasion that they reached it. The Steelers defense had no answer for the Patriots’ short passing game, nor could they stop the shots Brady took down the field. Seven different Patriots receivers — none of them named Antonio Brown — caught a pass. Phillip Dorsett, with two touchdowns, enjoyed the biggest night for the Patriots.
By midway through the third quarter, the game already seemed out of reach. While Pittsburgh tends to struggle in New England, this performance did not inspire confidence that the team can contend in the AFC. So where do the Steelers go from here? Is this what we can expect going forward?
“I think it’s too early to tell [if this will be a long season for the Steelers],” according to Inside The NFL analyst Steve Smith Sr. “But we will find out the true identity of a lot of teams. And we’ll find out that identity for a lot of teams starting in Week 5, and we’ll know by Week 8.”
The first half of the Steelers’ season includes a mixed bag of likely wins (San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins) and challenging matchups (Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers). A winning record at the midway point — say 5-3 — does not seem far-fetched.
The Steelers look to get back on track in their home opener against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday @ 1:00.
You can catch Steve along with Brandon Marshall, Phil Simms and host James Brown when Inside The NFL airs tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on Showtime.