Starting strong a must:** Brett Keisel made it no secret after Sunday's loss to the Raiders that he was disappointed with the way the Steelers started the game, allowing Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor to score on a 93-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage.
"We gotta step into stadiums ready to go," said Kesiel postgame.
He won't get any argument from his teammates, who know if they come out slow against Tom Brady and the Patriots this week it could quickly come back to haunt them.
"I don't know what it is, but we have to execute in the first half," said defensive end Cam Heyward. "The first play can't be a big play of some sort. You look at our second half and to only give up one first down in the second half, you want to have that in the first half as well. We need to establish it throughout.
"We have to come out strong and play strong for four quarters. It's going to be a 60 minute dogfight and whoever wins all four quarters is going to win the game."
It wasn't just the defense that started slow. The offense went three-and-out on their first two possessions and didn't get into the end zone until the fourth quarter, basically running out of time to make a comeback.
"Coming out strong should be an aspect of all phases of the game, offense, defense and special teams," said cornerback Cortez Allen. "Tom Brady is not a guy you can start slow against, no team is, and expect to just come back or anything like that. We have to start fast in all aspects of the game and improve on last week."
Tough test against Tom: Speaking of Brady, the defense knows they are going to have their hands full with the Patriots' all-everything quarterback.
"He is a great leader for that team, not just the offense," said Heyward. "He is very poised. He does a great job of distributing the ball. It's not like he locks on a receiver. He is going to throw to the open man. He is going to make our defense stay honest and balance it out with their running game.
"It's going to be important for us to stay on our keys and execute. That is the main game plan. If you execute you are going to be successful. If you don't, he is going to make you pay."
Brady and the Patriots offense struggled early last week against the Dolphins, down 17-3 at halftime with only 59 yards of total offense. But they came back and won 27-17, scoring 17 third quarter points, despite Brady finishing the game completing 13 of 22 passes for only 116 yards and a touchdown, while being sacked three times. The Steelers defense knows those numbers are not normal Brady numbers and have to be alert this week.
"What he brings to that team, you have to be sound," added Heyward. "You have to control the clock and keep him off the field. He has gone through some ups and downs with his receivers and they are probably planning on having a huge day against us so we have to be ready to control that."