After Further Review: He who splashes last ... 

After further review ...

The "fine line" Bill Cowher used to love to reference has seemingly never been more detectable.

Or more difficult to straddle.

Bill Belichick's Patriots came to Acrisure Stadium smarting from a 20-7 loss in Miami, a game Belichick assessed as much closer than the final score suggested but for two plays. One was a sack, fumble and scoop-and-score surrendered by his offense. The other was a last-minute, catch-and-run, 42-yard touchdown his defense hemorrhaged just before halftime.

The Patriots left Pittsburgh celebrating a 17-14 win over the Steelers that easily could have turned out differently had one or two plays gone the other way.

And this time it was Mike Tomlin lamenting the what-might-have-beens.

"One of those tight ballgames that's going to come down to a few things, and we knew that going in," Tomlin acknowledged. "That's why you put the weight on the weighty downs or the situational moments.

"They made more splash plays in that circumstance than we did."

New England also finished plus one in takeaway/giveaway.

And that was just enough.

The Steelers in their current state can't afford to be on the wrong side of those equations.

Not with a young offense still, in the words of Mitch Trubisky, "meshing" and searching for its best "identity."

Not with the defense suddenly trying to figure out how to proceed without the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

The Steelers worked around both of those developing situations at times against the Patriots, as they had in their season-opening overtime victory in Cincinnati.

But a dagger in each half proved decisive this time.

The first was a 44-yard strike from New England quarterback Mac Jones to wide receiver Nelson Agholor for the game's first touchdown (the first of three, as it turned out).

Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon was in great position on the play, running inside Agholor stride for stride down the sideline, but Agholor found a way to go up and get the ball and get into the end zone in the second quarter's final minute.

The second was a Patriots punt launched with 4:06 left in the third quarter.

Return man Gunner Olszewski muffed it and the Patriots' Brenden Schooler recovered.

The mistake was compounded by an unnecessary roughness penalty against Conner Heyward, which set the Patriots up 10 yards from what would become their second and final touchdown, one that pushed the New England advantage to 17-6.

A bunch of other stuff happened.

Minkah Fitzpatrick had another interception.

Diontae Johnson made another spectacular catch, this time for a two-point conversion.

The Steelers didn't stop the run as well as they'd hoped, which in turn didn't allow them to get after the passer as well as they wanted.

And Trubisky bemoaned "missed opportunities" on offense.

The anticipated ebb and flow was evident throughout.

But two quick-strike touchdowns for the visitors (the Pats required three plays to score after the muffed punt, but you get the idea) were too much to overcome.

The Steelers' margin for error right about now isn't large enough to cover two of those.

At least it wasn't on Sunday.

"Not enough splash," Tomlin acknowledged again, "particularly in the weighty moments."

One more at the right time might have been.

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