Steelers coaches couldn't talk over the sounds of the Patriots Radio Network during Thursday night's game, but when those coaches discuss the game this weekend, they will feel relatively good about their team.
Not great, but good.
There are a few reasons for this.
A 28-21 loss on the road to the defending Super Bowl champs is digestible: The Steelers didn't play particularly well in most areas but still had their chances. They missed two field goals, botched a promising game-opening drive with an ill-timed reverse, forgot to tackle at times, decided they were allergic to Rob Gronkowski at the line of scrimmage -- and still were within seven points in the second half.
The Steelers moved the ball, just couldn't score: On the first six drives, the Steelers averaged 56 yards. They got one touchdown out of that work. The subtle mistakes added up, like the false start at third-and-goal from the 1 (though Ben Roethlisberger argued the Patriots falsely shifted during a cadence), Darrius Heyward-Bey stepping out of bounds in the back of the end zone on a catch, two missed kicks from Josh Scobee. Roethlisberger threw for 351 and DeAngelo Williams ran for 127 -- the Steelers will take those numbers all day without Le'Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant and Maurkice Pouncey.
*The defense wasn't a disaster: Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman could get whatever they wanted all night, combining for 16 catches and 191 yards. But rarely will the Steelers see a quarterback who releases the ball as fast as Brady. The Steelers let Brady complete 25-of-32 passes (including a franchise-record 19 straight), but he averaged a modest 9 yards per attempt. The Steelers can live with that. They terribly misplayed Gronkowski by giving him too much room and missed too many untouched running lanes. But the defense also forced New England into four punts, which is better than some fare.