FOXBOROUGH, Mass. _ Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took the blame _ “I wasn’t good enough” _ and the lead in attempting to bring his teammates back in the immediate aftermath of Patriots 33, Steelers 3.
“As a leader and a captain, a guy who’s been around a long time you go on past experiences,” Roethlisberger offered late Sunday night at Gillette Stadium. “There have been other seasons where we haven’t won the first game of the season.
“Truth be told, I told them ‘it stinks.’ No one wants to win more than me. No one likes to lose a game, especially the first one. But, truthfully, it’s still a long season, it’s early. It’s not the end of the season. It’s not the middle of the season. It’s the very first game, so there’s a lot of football left. We have to approach the season like there’s a lot of football left.”
Defensive captain and defensive tackle Cam Heyward was adamant the Steelers were aware of the required response to a performance no one saw coming.
“Come to work (today), that simple,” Heyward said. “Take it day by day, look at our mistakes and get ready for Seattle.”
Added guard David DeCastro: “I’ll be disappointed for 24 hours, and then I’ll just move on. You can’t let it affect you down the road. They’re a good team, it’s hard to play here, but look at the film, be critical and move on.”
THE LONGEST YARD: The Steelers failed on three successive attempts to convert third-and-1 (twice) or fourth-and-1 opportunities in the second quarter.
Running back James Conner was stopped on the ground twice on the third-and-1s.
A pass from Roethlisberger to wide receiver Donte Moncrief fell incomplete on the fourth down try.
The Patriots turned the defensive stops into a touchdown and a field goal and increased their lead from 10-0 to 20-0 heading into halftime.
“They just executed better than we did more than anything,” guard Ramon Foster said.
Such failures were as frustrating as any the offense endured.
“We just couldn’t hep our defense out at all,” DeCastro lamented. “You can’t let an offense like that get back on the field. We just didn’t play team ball.
“It’s the usual, we’ve been through it before. Everyone just taking turns not making plays, that’s how it goes. All it takes is one guy, that’s what offense is about.”
PAYING FOR MISTAKES: Kameron Kelly made his NFL debut and started at safety for Sean Davis (inactive, ankle).
Kelly got what he expected from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in response to what Kelly characterized as Steelers’ “miscommunication” on defense.
“When you play against somebody like Brady and the Patriots it can’t happen, because they’re going to expose every little slip up,” Kelly said.
NOTHING TO PROVE: JuJu Smith-Schuster maintained the wide receivers weren’t out to make any type of season-opening statement given what had changed since last season.
“People are always going to talk about not having certain players that we had last year,” he said. “This year, I think the guys we have here now, we have guys to play outside receiver, inside receiver. We have so many guys. We we just have to make our plays.
“We didn’t make our plays, it’s crucial and it’s a game-changer.”
Wide receivers were targeted 37 times against the Patriots and came away with 20 receptions.
Moncrief was targeted 10 times and finished with three catches for 7 yards.
“I’m not worried about him,” Roethlisberger said. “I’m worried about myself. I need to play better, he’ll be just fine.
“I have all the confidence in the world in him, that he’s going to be a guy for us that I can count on, and I told him that. I’m not going to shy away from throwing him the ball.”
Game action photos from the Steelers' Week 1 game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium