Let's face it, the Steelers looked down right horrible against the Pats, and blame the injuries along both lines for it!
All the rave in the Steelers D goes to the LB (Harrison and Woodley in particular) but I think the 3-4 defense starts up front with the big guys. They're the ones responsible for eating up blocks so those LBs can make the plays. Aaron Smith is, I think, the real cog that makes this defense turn. In the past 4-5 years, he's suffered a long-term/season ending injury in three of those years, and the defense fell completely apart (along with the Steelers' season). Granted, Troy was hurt around the same time last year, so that didn't help them out either. With Keisel ailing and missing time on the other end, that D-line just isn't close to what it should be and they got no pass rush in New England. Hood just hasn't lived up to a 1st round pick yet. Hope he picks it up soon. With no pass rush, that exposes holes in the zone coverages and good QBs (like Brees and Brady) can dink and dunk their way down the field.
Should I even mention the Oline? With recent injuries, along the line (from left to right) we have Slow, Slower, Pouncey, Even Slower, and Slowest. There's a lot of beef on that line, but I've never seen a more flat-footed group than what I saw in New England. They couldn't open any holes for the rushers and they couldn't give Ben the time he needed. There were people swarming around him as soon as he was at the end of his drop. That caused problems in the quick passing game because of another injury. Ward's. He's the go to guy on those quick passes because of his sure hands. The game would have been more competitive if he was in there because Randle El and Wallace both dropped short passes that killed momentum. This is why I'm not panicking yet. With the return of Ward, it should help keep defenses honest. Hopefully Chris K. can get back to help the Oline.
The Steelers will get back on track this weekend against the Raiders. Despite coming into the league in a WC offense, Campbell doesn't have the awareness for the dink and dunk and the Steelers D will be its usual stout self against the run. The O will get on track...as much as possible with that patchwork Oline. Look for the Steelers to move to 6-3.