Tim Benz: ‘Broadcasting grievances’ as Steelers battle all-round against Patriots

NFL coaches love to talk about the “three phases” of their team. Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is no exception.

Although Tomlin probably didn’t want to talk about her much on Sunday night. Because even though his team’s 17-14 loss to New England was a close match, all three stages were overcome at Acresor Stadium.

In this week’s “Broadcast of Grievances,” the Steelers’ attack, defense and special teams are getting some heat.

In each case, deservedly so.

fatal drops: With just over four minutes remaining in the third quarter, Cameron Sutton dropped a sure interception. The Steelers’ defense held out and he forced a kick anyway.

But the Steelers knocked back return Gunner Olszewski failed to return, and the Patriots recovered.

This led to Damian Harris’ relegation.

Here’s one more thing to complain about along those lines. Early in the game, Patriots kick player Miles Bryant is back Also muffled punt. He was out of his own end zone. He picked it up in the end zone but it was processed before getting out of it.

This is not safe. This is a bounce. This is a stupid rule.

Run defense got running: After a gruesome performance last year, the Steelers’ impulsive defense performed very well against Joe Mixon and the Cincinnati Bengals in the first week.

But when the Patriots needed to run the ball late and work the clock in the fourth quarter, they easily got what they needed. Of the Patriots’ 124 yards in the game, 54 yards came in the final round. Outfield quarterback Malik Reed credited the Patriots quarterback Mac Jones for coming out – and in – various plays in the line of scrimmage during the final drive.

“At class, he’d check a lot. He’d see what we were in. He’s a very smart guy. Once they got a feel for our adjustments, they were able to counter those things,” Reid said.

Outfield quarterback Alex Highsmith echoed that, and noticed when he checked on Jones and saw that the Patriots ended up running away from the slightly tight end on the final drive.

No wat, no answer: The Steelers were 0-4-1 without TJ Watt last year. They are 0-1 to start this year.

With at least three more games to go.

Without Watt, the Steelers’ defense dropped from seven sacks against the Cincinnati Bengals to no sacks against the Patriots. And Jones isn’t exactly the most mobile quarterback in the NFL.

Also, Jones hasn’t been bullied into making bad decisions like Joe Borough last week in Cincinnati. Nor was there a threat of Jones getting a ball hit on the left side of the defense, another area where Watt excels.

“I don’t think we had a sack today. TJ is a great player for us. He’s clearly one of the best who gets pushed to the edge. He’s a good player. We have the mentality of the next guy, but we obviously miss him there,” Minka Fitzpatrick said.

The Steelers tried to find different groups of individuals to replace Watt. Reed started. Rookie DeMarvin Leal got some peeks flowing from the edge. JR Jones and Delontay Scott got some shots. But nothing quite lives up to it.

Without Watt worrying about the left side of the defence, Highsmith didn’t do much on the right side.

“We can be better as a defense as a whole. Especially getting down to the last drive. I have to play better too. That was far from what I wanted to do today,” said Highsmith.

Highsmith ended up with three tackles (one for a loss) and one quarterback hit.

Curious about George: If only the Steelers had spent a high draft draft on a wide and dangerous sports receiver that could affect the games.

Wait a minute.

Oh yes. They did. George Pickens. a ticket? It’s all we can talk about in pre-season. However, in Game 1 in Cincinnati, he only had one catch on three targets. On Sunday, he only had – wait for it – one catch and three goals. This hunt went for 23 yards.

After the loss, quarterback Mitch Trubesky admitted the Steelers were not using their second-round choice enough.

“We have to get George on,” Trubesky said. “When everyone gets their touch, and we’re moving the ball around, that’s when it feels good. But when you miss opportunities, that’s when you feel like this. And you don’t want to feel that again.”

Deontay Johnson led the Steelers with ten goals, six catches, and 57 yards.

Not down with a third down: The Steelers were 7 of 11 in their third touchdown in the first half. They were 1 of 4 in the second half.

That’s a big reason the Steelers only had the ball for 26 minutes and 24 seconds and the Patriots had it for 33:36.

“In the second half, they executed us more than anyone else in the third,” Trubisky said. “In the fourth quarter, it wasn’t good enough.”

Honestly, level one and two weren’t very good either. The Steelers averaged just 4.2 yards per game, down from 4.4 yards per game a week ago. That was 29th in the league in the first week.

Aside from all of that, the Steelers were pretty cool, right?

Tim Benz is a Tribune Review writer. You can contact Tim at tbenz@triblive.com or via Twitter. All tweets can be reposted. All emails are subject to posting unless otherwise stated.