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Patriots hit a steel curtain

Gronkowski, Faulk about the only positives for the Patriots during Sunday's game.

What went right for the Pats ...

1. Faulk’s back
— Kevin Faulk hadn’t played since blowing out his ACL in Week 2 of last season. After going on the PUP list to start 2011, Faulk got the start for the Pats this week. He had six carries for 32 yards and five catches for 20 yards — plus some key blocks.

2. A timely pick
— This game should have been a blowout, and the Patriots’ defense was just as much to blame as their offense. But as bad as the ‘D’ was, Gary Guyton’s pick deep in the Steelers end was a huge boost for New England. It led to a short field and an eventual TD to make it a 10-7 game. Unfortunately, the Pats never got any closer than three points for the rest of the game.

3. Hometown hero
— Rob Gronkowski made seven catches for 94 yards on Sunday. He was targeted by Tom Brady nine times — and even that might not have been enough. Last year, Gronkowski had three touchdowns versus the Steelers, and it was clear again Sunday that they have trouble covering him. If these two teams meet again in the playoffs, expect a huge game — Pittsburgh simply has no answer.

What went wrong ...

1. Opening weak — The Steelers received to start the game, and set the tone by driving 68 yards on 11 plays to take a 7-0 lead. The Patriots had a chance to set their own tone at the start of the

second half. What did they do? Three plays, nine yards, punt.

2. Mismanaging the clock — Down 13 with less than five minutes left, the Pats needed a quick score. Instead, with the ball inside the Steelers 5, they squandered more than two minutes of clock. That, combined with their porous defense, gave them no chance to get the ball back.

3. Offense??What offense??— The Steelers came in with the top pass defense in the league, and did they ever show it. The Patriots got nothing going on offense all game, with Tom Brady throwing for just 197 yards and two touchdowns. The Pats basically had no running game, either. It

was ugly all around.

A close look at Rob Gronkowski


It says a lot for Gronk’s mental abilities that he was able to put aside the week’s ... ahem ... distractions and post a seven-catch, 94-yard game.


They’re good for catching — and tweeting! He’s up to nearly 66,000 followers @RobGronkowski, by the way.

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