Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo is usually succinct in his sound bites. After a loss, he's about as chatty as a brick. A good-natured brick.
Mayo had his weekly meet with Tom Curran two days after New England fell 25-17 to the Steelers. Leading in the match up, quarterback Tom Brady flagged it as a learning opportunity.
So what did Mayo and the rest glean from giving up 10 of Pittsburgh's 16 third-down chances?
"We fought to the very end," he said. "We still had a chance to win the game at the end of it. It was a tough game for us."
He's not exactly wrong.
Though the defense gave Brady's bunch just 20 minutes to score, they did tamp down in the game's waning moments to give the 'O' another chance. It just wasn't enough; too much damage had already been done. The time of possession, the third downs, and the inability to stop Pittsburgh's aerial attack (365 yards surrendered) stacked the deck well in the Steelers' favor.
And it was a step back for an already struggling defense.
"It surprised us a little bit. We had a great week of practice and just didn't go out and execute like we wanted to."
Curran joked with the linebacker about his brevity.
"Yeah. Great answers," Mayo laughed.
Okay. Losing is a sensitive subject. No need to throw that on the breaking news wire. Talk of New England's weak defense has been building for almost four years. The deficiencies in the secondary, especially, have been obvious. But Mayo says the team isn't working itself up with worry.
How? There's at least one key strategy.
"Not listening to guys like you, to start off," he ribbed Curran. "But at the same time, we know people are going to say what they want to. We're not ready to hit the panic button. We know we have a good football team and we'll just continue to get better. We aren't even at the halfway point yet, so we have a long way to go."
Up next is the New York Giants. Eli Manning brings his 102.1 quarterback rating to Gillette for the first Pats-G-men showdown since New York won Super Bowl XLII 17-14 in mind-bending fashion.
Mayo, a senior at the University of Tennessee in 2007, says he watched that game at home in Virginia. He had no problem admitting who he pulled for.
His investment in New England is one NFL draft and many paychecks deeper now. He brings things up to date with Curran in the second half of the interview.