Curran: Steelers loss was a win for New England


Curran: Steelers loss was a win for New England

By Tom E. Curran

DALLAS I think we can agree that, when appraising any situation, the only question that demands answering is: What does this mean to meeeeee?

And there were things that occurred in Dallas Sunday night that had relevance to people residing in the Northeast corner of these United States.

Christina Aguilera leaving out her ramparts during the National Anthem? Interesting. Not impactful.

The Pittsburgh Steelers bumbling away a chance at their third Super Bowl win since 2005? Impactful.

I know enough Steelers fans to be aware of their searing hatred for all things New England Patriots. Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Danny Woodheads adorable three-legged basset hound? Hate. Hate. And hate.

Its born of their agitation with the Patriots usurping Pittsburgh as the dominant AFC team. From 1975 through 2000, no AFC franchise approached the legacy the Steelers built in the 1970s.

The Broncos kinda did, but even those two Super Bowl wins in 1997 and 1998 didnt erase their four Super Bowl losses (a few by beatdown). And the Bills were despite being the most consistently excellent team of the 1990s - really just lovable losers.

When the Patriots came along and won three Super Bowls in four years, going right through Pittsburgh (at Pittsburgh) in two conference championship games, Steelers and their fanbase lost their identity. Or at least the ability to indisputably claim the Steelers were the most important AFC franchise.

And when the Patriots got caught videotaping defensive signals after being asked (along with the rest of the league) to stop the practice, that relatively minor act (the major act was their defiance of the edict), Steelers fans had their hammer to discredit the Patriots legacy.

Had Pittsburgh won Sunday night, they would have basically matched what New England did from 2001 through 2004 winning three titles in a very short span.

But they didnt. Instead, they spit the bit in a very winnable game. Their very good quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, failed to cross the threshold into all-time greatness. Their amazing and admirable safety, Troy Polamalu, was a liability. The Steelers failed to beat a team that had lost important players on both offense (Donald Driver) and defense (Charles Woodson).

And now their hammer remains Spygate, instead of three rings for Roethlisberger and seven Lombardis for the franchise (including three from 2001-10 . . . same as the Pats).

They will use that hammer. This post-Super Bowl Monday, Ive been fielding irate e-mails from Steelers fans for saying Roethlisberger failed to achieve all-time greatness when the opportunity was laid out in front of him.

And failed in spectacularly inefficient fashion.

This assertion, apparently, is not made in a vacuum because the e-mails Ive gotten have usually included the words Spygate, Brady Cheating and expletive Belichick.

The reason?

Its not just about their Steelers. Its about their Steelers place in history. Same thing as the Patriots and their fans concerns.

And on this particular Monday, nothings changed for the Patriots. Given the alternative if Pittsburgh had won, that probably means a lot.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Five quick impressions: Patriots 27, Steelers 16

Five quick impressions: Patriots 27, Steelers 16

The Patriots went into Pittsburgh and beat an under-manned Steelers team Sunday afternoon, 27-16. Here are some of our quick takeaways.

PATRIOTS 27, STEELERS 16: Curran's Best and Worst | Troy Brown: Pittsburgh didn't capitalize on Pats' mistakes

-- With all eyes on the matchup between Antonio Brown and Malcolm Butler, the third-year Patriots corner held his own. After allowing nine catches for 133 yards to Brown in their first meeting last season, Butler allowed Brown to catch five passes for 90 yards Sunday. Butler also took advantage of some of the chances taken by Landry Jones, intercepting one pass intended for Brown in the end zone in the first quarter. Butler finished the day with two pass breakups and a pick on 10 targets. The four catches he allowed to Brown were the only catches he allowed in the game. 

-- Julian Edelman looked like Julian Edelman in the win. He caught 9 of the 10 targets sent his way for 60 yards, getting open underneath while seeing one-on-one coverage for much of the contest. Edelman has been on the injury report for the last two weeks, limited with a foot injury, but he was able to get open on the intermediate routes that has made him one of Tom Brady's favorite targets over the last few years. Edelman did have one drop on third down, and he did fumble a punt return, which allows us to . . . 

-- . . . take a look at what was a rough day for Patriots special teams units. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed yet another extra point -- his second in as many weeks. He has now missed five kicks on the season, including three field goals. The Patriots kickoff unit also had a difficult day, allowing three kicks to be returned past the 25-yard line. The punt-coverage team made one costly error at the end of the first half when Brandon Bolden kicked a bouncing ball out of the back of the Steelers end zone. Instead of the Pittsburgh drive starting at the 6-yard line, where Bolden touched the football, it came out to the 20. At the end of the half, the Steelers kicked a 32-yard field goal. Bolden also dropped a third-down pass that would have gone for a first down. On another punt, it appeared as though Bolden got up slowly after trying to down the ball near the goal line. It was his first game back after suffering a knee injury in Week 4.

-- LeGarrette Blount had a big day against his former team. The 250-pound back didn't want to be a story line earlier in the week, denying interview requests, saying that he would speak after the game on Sunday. His performance at Heinz Field will certainly keep those requests coming. He ran 24 times for 127 yards and two touchdowns, beating up on the Steelers front-seven late in the game as New England protected its lead. 

-- While the Patriots offensive line provided Blount with enough room to run, it was a relatively sloppy day for Brady's protection up front. Left tackle Nate Solder turned in one drive during which he allowed a pressure and was then flagged for back-to-back holding penalties (one of which was declined). Shaq Mason also appeared to have trouble with Pittsburgh's Jarvis Jones, allowing a couple of pressures and picking up a flag for holding. Joe Thuney and David Andrews -- both of whom had good blocks on James White's score -- also picked up penalties. There will be plenty for offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia to pick at and try to improve in the coming week of practice.