Steelers

Same old story here: Steelers get ‘butts whooped’

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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates a touchdown against the Steelers -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It was a David Byrne kind of night for the Steelers.

You know, "Same as it ever was."

The Steelers walked into Gillette Stadium Sunday night with their heads held high. Their confidence solid. And with a renewed sense of teamwork following an offseason turmoil-free, Antonio Brown-free unity.

None of it mattered. The Patriots raised their sixth Super Bowl banner before this game, then set about dismantling the Steelers, 33-3, here before a rabid crowd whipped into an even bigger frenzy over the news the local team had agreed to terms with the aforementioned Brown.

That will be announced sometime today. In the meantime, the Patriots will bask in the glory of this latest victory over the Steelers in Foxborough -- the sixth with Tom Brady at the helm in the regular season -- while the Steelers will spend the week wondering what in the wide, wide world of sports just happened.

"We got our butts whooped today," Cam Heyward said. "There were a lot of mistakes. It falls on us. We had a good plan, but we didn't execute it well. When you do that against a Super Bowl-winning team ..."

Yeah. You lose.

Brady completed 24 of 36 passes for 341 yards and three touchdowns, two to Phillip Dorsett, a guy who could be relegated to being inactive in future weeks after the Patriots get Brown up to speed.

In the meantime, the Steelers did little offensively to help out, leaving the defense on the field for way too long, especially in the first half when the Patriots built a 20-0 lead.

The Steelers were 1 for 6 on third downs in the first half and didn't cross midfield until late in the half, when they went for it on fourth-and-1 from the New England 47 at the two-minute warning.

But Ben Roethlisberger and Donte Moncrief -- who had at least five of the 10 passes thrown his way in this game in his hands only to drop them or have them knocked free -- couldn't connect on a short pass, turning the ball over on downs.

"We just couldn't convert on third downs," said Roethlisberger who finished with 276 passing yards, many of which came late in the game long after it had been decided.

"We couldn't get drives. We couldn't sustain things. That's partly on us and partly on them."

It's a similar story to previous games played here. The Steelers just can't beat Brady in Foxborough. He's now thrown 21 touchdown passes against them in six career regular season games with no interceptions.

With the offense failing to stay on the field in the first half -- when the Patriots held a 17:15-12:45 advantage in time of possession -- it was only a matter of time before Brady found the weak spots.

The Steelers had their best scoring chance earlier in the quarter when Roethlisberger connected with James Washington down the sideline for a 45-yard gain to the New England 18 on the opening possession of the second half.

But after getting first-and-goal at the 6 and then getting a four-yard run by James Conner to the 1, the Steelers faced third down. Roethlisberger threw a fade to Moncrief that was way off target.

The Steelers kicked a field goal to make it 20-3, but it felt like a loss.

"We wanted a little positivity," Mike Tomlin attempted to explain. "We didn't have enough positivity to that point. We wanted to get points, you know, get things going. I that that all got nullified by the big play we gave up on the subsequent drive.

And then some, as Brady finally figured out a spot where he could go after the Steelers defense for a big play.

In this case, it was first-year free safety Kameron Kelly, making his first career start in place of injured Sean Davis.

Brady hit Dorsett down the seam for a 58-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, then connected with Josh Gordon for a 44-yard gain later in the quarter to set up a field goal.

 "There were some miscommunications on those," Kelly said. "We beat ourselves. But they played a good game.

"I knew they were going to come after me a bit. But I've got to play better. It wasn't really anything they did. We beat ourselves. That happens. And when you play against somebody like Brady, you can't have those. He'll take advantage of every little slip up."

And he did. Same as he always does, at least at Gillette Stadium, sending the Steelers to an opening-game loss.

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