RED-ZONE WOES:** The numbers for Landry Jones were respectable 29-for-47 passing for 281 yards, one touchdown and one interception and a passer rating of 76.6 in his third career start.
But for Mike Tomlin and the Steelers, Sunday's showdown with New England was destined to be about so much more than the quarterback filling in for Ben Roethlisberger.
"It wasn't going to be about Landry Jones," Tomlin insisted. "It was going to be about the challenge that was presented to us in the manner in which we needed to play collectively in an effort to overcome that challenge.
"Largely, we were unsuccessful."
The final score of Patriots 27, Steelers 16 confirmed as much.
"To be honest with you, we moved the ball up and down the field," Jones said. "That was no issue. The issue was the red zone (the Steelers went 1-for-4 scoring TDs on possessions that reached the New England 20-yard line).
"We kicked field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. And then we had that interception on like the second drive of the game and missed a couple field goals and then had a holding penalty on a touchdown pass. So everyone had a hand in it. We have to solve this red zone issue for us to be the offense we want to be."
Wide receiver Antonio Brown, likewise, saw the red zone as decisive (New England went 3-for-3 scoring TDs in the red zone).
"Absolutely," he said. "We have to find a way to put points on the board. We had a couple of trips to the red zone, didn't find a way to put points on the board. When you're playing a good team, you have to score in those situations."
Game action from Week 7 against the New England Patriots.
RUN OVER AGAIN:** The Steelers allowed more than 100 yards rushing (140) for the third time this season (including 127 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 24 attempts by running back LeGarrette Blount).
They had been scorched for 222 rushing yards against in a 30-15 loss on Oct. 16 at Miami and had allowed 125 rushing yards in a 34-3 loss on Sept. 25 at Philadelphia.
The Steelers are 4-0 when holding an opponent under 100 yards on the ground.
"We acknowledge schematically that we were willing to bleed a little bit in the run game in an effort to minimize big plays," Tomlin said. "In doing so, we would have to come off blocks and make tackles _ not enough of that for us to be successful."
Linebacker Jarvis Jones had seven tackles (second among Steelers to linebacker Lawrence Timmons' 11) and also forced and recovered a fumble.
But Jones wasn't happy.
"We're not coming off of blocks," Jones complained. "We have to come off blocks and make plays. I don't know another way to say it.
"Regardless of what the offense has going on, we on defense, we hold ourselves to a standard. The last couple of weeks, we haven't been that defense. We have to get it corrected."
THEY SAID IT:** "I think he did an outstanding job. I think he was very confident. I think he was making a lot of plays. I think he didn't get the full support from the rest of the offense as a group. Obviously, he made some mistakes. He'll learn from them. But I think as an offense we could have done a lot more to help him out." _ Offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva on Landry Jones.
"They are a good group, well coached. They played well up front. They don't get out of their gaps. A really sound football team, and that's why they're good." _ Running back Le'Veon Bell on the Patriots.
"First of all, this is a tough place to play. I have a lot of respect for the Steelers and Coach Tomlin. That entire football team is tough. They compete very hard. They have a lot of good players. It's a tough place to win. The Steelers are a good football team." _ Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the Steelers.