New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Gameday

Not that it ever is. New England will gang up on the run and give Brady too many opportunities to punish Butler's inconsistent defense. The two dropped passes on third downs in the first half that cut drives short.

What's certain: The Steelers wouldn't mind seeing New England again. The lack of any downfield passing game to someone not named Rob Gronkowski.

"Guys come in that are used to being a big fish in a small pond, but now everybody's the best of the best", Cyrus Jones said of the NFL. The clubs entered the season as the first and second choices in the AFC to reach Houston in February.

Tom Brady has completed 76 percent of his passes for 782 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions in his two starts, so the 39-year-old is playing above even his own lofty standards.

This would certainly be the case for the Pittsburgh Steelers and their Week 8 bye week, but this team has been in need of a bye week since their Week 3 drubbing against the Philadelphia Eagles.

"You would like to think we could put him on Gronk and say we got him", Butler said.

Or any other important Patriot for that matter. The Steelers go into Sunday's game with the 30th ranked pass defense in the National Football League, allowing 298 yards per game. Heyward's vital up front, while inside linebacker Ryan Shazier is critical at the second level. "This is bad right now". New England will roll in this one. "They've got great fans that make it a wild atmosphere up there, so it should be a tough challenge".

Since then, though, suspensions (two from the league, one in each of the past two seasons, for drug-related offenses) and injury (he tore two ligaments in his right knee last November) have done what opponents have, far more often than not, failed to do: They've negated him, limiting Bell to just nine of his team's last 22 regular-season games.

While Jones wasn't ideal while completing 27 of 49 passes for 281 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his third career start, he was hardly the only reason the Steelers (4-3) dropped their second straight and fell to 11-10 in games not started by Roethlisberger since 2004.

In the end, the big plays were the difference to the game and caused the Steelers to lose. Last season the Steelers played the Patriots in the opener at Gillette Stadium and lost, 28-21. If they really like a quarterback in this year's draft, they should by all means draft him.

And that sits just fine with Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower. His performance helped turn around an afternoon that wasn't going well for New England - the Patriots winning to go to 5-1 and they head to Heinz Field. Jabaal Sheard leads the Patriots in sacks with 3 1/2. Terrelle Pryor, who most speculated would lead the quarterback position in week 6, ended up leading the Browns receiving core with team-highs in receptions and receiving yards with 9 catches for 75 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He must be forced into a more methodical approach where the chances for mistakes will increase.

With the odds stacked against them the Steelers look to make a stand in a critical AFC matchup. For now, that's little solace.

"Yeah, definitely", the Patriots' slot receiver said Thursday when the topic of Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown came up. "I think he'll start getting the respect he deserves once he's consistent and on the field a lot".

"He may have more animosity about it than we do", Moats said.



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