Labriola on loss to Patriots

There are a lot of obvious reasons why particular games are important. Late-season games because of the proximity of the playoffs, division games whenever, games against hated rivals always.

Coming as it did as the ninth game for each of the teams, this installment of Steelers-Patriots wasn't a late-season showdown, these teams don't live in the same division, and the relative infrequency of these get-togethers has prevented the animosity from percolating the way it does whenever it's the Ravens lining the opposite sideline.

But make no mistake, this was a big game, and the Steelers' 39-26 loss last Sunday night means a bit more to them and their continued development as a team than it does as the one that dropped them to 6-3. It means more because of who was wearing the headsets and who was under center.

This loss drops the Steelers back into a tie with the Ravens atop the AFC North Division, but that's muted somewhat by the amount of football still left to be played in this regular season. And it's more than just a suspicion that the whole Steelers-Ravens thing won't be decided by anything except the Dec. 3 rematch in Baltimore.

No, the real significance of last Sunday night is the Steelers lost again to Belichick/Brady in Pittsburgh. Nemesis, indeed.

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