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Mike Tomlin's Headset Rage Covers Up Steelers' Failures And Other Leftover Patriots Thoughts

BOSTON (CBS) -- For someone who has yet so utter a word into his headset microphone in his eight years in charge, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin sure was mad on Thursday night.

We could get into how bad Tomlin looked for a number of reasons. We could discuss how he was so angry about headset interference in the first half that he nearly threw a hissy fit in his postgame press conference. We could discuss how bad it looks, considering the Patriots dealt with a number of problems with their own headsets but chose not to make a big deal about it.

Instead, let's talk about the Steelers running a trick play to lose eight yards after the first five plays of the game gained them 10.8 yards per snap. Let's talk about Marcus Gilbert taking a holding penalty on the next play, quickly moving the Steelers from first-and-10 on the 24-yard line to second-and-28 from the 42.

Let's talk about Darrius Heyward-Bey blowing the easiest touchdown of his life by dropping to a knee and putting himself out of bounds while wide open in the end zone.

Let's talk about not one but two offensive linemen committing false starts on the 1-yard line after the Patriots' D line shifted, despite Ben Roethlisberger saying after the game that the Steelers saw the same shift on film during preparation for the game. And then let's talk about running an inside handoff to nowhere on the ensuing play.

Let's talk about putting no defender on Rob Gronkowski in the red zone. (Play result: Touchdown.) Then let's talk about putting Bud Dupree on Gronkowski in the fourth quarter. (Play result: 52-yard gain.)

Let's talk about Tomlin's Steelers falling to 0-3 vs. Brady in New England, with the Patriots outscoring Pittsburgh 117-65. That's an average margin of victory 17 points, a mark that would have been even worse for Pittsburgh if not for a garbage-time touchdown on Thursday. (The Steelers did beat Matt Cassel in New England, though, so they've got that.)

Oh, and let's not forget to talk about Josh Scobee missing field goals from 44 yards and 46 yards, relative chip shots in today's NFL, especially on a night with absolutely no wind.

You see how it's easier for the Steelers to deflect attention away from all of those failures and get everybody to instead focus on headsets? It's not dissimilar to John Harbaugh's hemming and hawing last January about perfectly legal formations that tricked him not once, not twice but three times, until the Ravens head coach stormed onto the field to illegally stop the game.

When you lose a football game and you'd prefer your home fans -- and your bosses, for that matter -- focus on perceived wrongdoing by the other team instead of your own failures, then Foxboro is the perfect place to be. That's just a way of life.

Now, let's get into all of the leftover thoughts from the Patriots' 28-21 victory on the NFL's opening night.

--The worst part about Tomlin's press conference was how he tried to act like he was "above" questioning the Patriots just a few short moments after suggesting funny business was at play.

Q: You mentioned the frequency communication problems here. Is that something you've experienced in any other place?

Tomlin: Guys, I'm answering questions regarding what happened in that stadium right there. So, if anybody has any more questions about what happened tonight, I'll be happy to address it.

Q: That's a very serious thing that you're indicating.

Tomlin: I'm not indicating nothing. I'm telling you what happened.

Q: So you're saying there are always problems here?

Tomlin: Guys, let's talk about what happened in that stadium tonight, please.

Guys! Let's talk about what happened in the stadium tonight! Please! Forget the fact that just a moment ago I complained about headset failure ... which happened to be in the stadium. Forget that! I just want to talk about football! (But also don't forget about the headsets.)

--I jotted down the following note at 8:22 of the first quarter:

"Brady had DA open, overthrew it just a bit."

He wouldn't throw another incompletion until 8:27 of the fourth quarter.

--I listed Malcolm Butler in the "Downs" of the game, but really, the guy didn't have a terrible night, considering who he was covering.

Antonio Brown finished the night with nine receptions for 133 yards and one touchdown. It was the 33rd straight game for Brown with at least five receptions and 50 yards. That's wild.

Plus, there were plays where Butler couldn't have played the receiver or the ball any better, yet Brown still came down with the ball.

I mean ...

Antonio Brown
Antonio Brown (Screen shot from
Antonio Brown
Antonio Brown (Screen shot from

That Brown kid might have a future in this league.

--Ben Roethlisberger has unofficially led the league for the past decade in plays where he stands like a statue, absorbs a giant hit, but somehow stays on his feet and makes a play. He's listed at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, but Belichick hinted this week that Roethlisberger may be even bigger than that.

So, credit to Dont'a Hightower for Velcro-ing a hand on Roethlisberger and pulling off a professional wrestling move to sack the QB in the first quarter.

Dont'a Hightower
Dont'a Hightower (Screen shot from

I think that's a suplex? I do know Hightower lifts weights.

--Congratulations are in order for Julian Edelman, who extended his streak of Getting His Body Contorted In Half to 25 straight games.

Julian Edelman
Julian Edelman (Screen shot from

--Edelman caught 11 passes for 97 yards, which is nothing to sneeze at, but his best play came on his one rush of the night. He picked up nine yards on a speed sweep on a third-and-2 on the first play of the second quarter, and he completely broke Cortez Allen's ankles to stretch that run for a first down.

Step 1:

Julian Edelman
(Screen shot from

Step 2:

Julian Edelman
(Screen shot from

Step 3:

Julian Edelman
(Screen shot from

Allen also committed a pass interference in the end zone on Edelman. Rough night.

--Here's a situation that actually made me angry. It actually made me mad. I haven't been this mad since Patriots opponents somehow failed to cover Mike Vrabel in goal line situations.

If you want to have any chance to beat New England, you have to cover ... Rob ... Gronkowski. And yet ...

A replay angle showed Brady clapping to get center David Andrews to snap the ball quickly before Pittsburgh had time to realize No. 87 was all alone on the right sideline. Seems like a cheater move if you ask me. I expect a 10,000-word exposé on the Worldwide Leader any second now.

--Of course, the Patriots returned the favor by leaving Darrius Heyward-Bey in his own zip code in the end zone. But unfortunately for DHB, he forgot how to football.

Darrius Heyward-Bey
(Screen shot from

That's not how you football, sir.

--After Tom Brady successfully moved the chains on two QB sneaks, I've updated my all-time notebook, which has Brady at 5,000-for-5,000 in his career. I may be off by one or two, but I think that's accurate.

It was funny, Pittsburgh was determined to not let Brady sneak into the end zone when the Patriots had the ball on the 1-yard line, putting about 4,000 pounds of human over the center.

(Screen shot from

So Brady adjusted and said, "OK. I'll throw it to this guy."

Rob Gronkowski
Rob Gronkowski (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Brady's an all-time great quarterback, obviously, but man, the benefit of having that guy out there to vacuum every football in his general vicinity cannot be overstated.

--It's important to give credit to the offensive line. Last year in September, the offensive line was just a mess. Jordan Devey and Josh Kline were getting major playing time on the interior and it was not working out, to say the least. Now, the tuba player is gone, and Kline looked much improved. Rookies Shaq Mason and Tre Jackson were not dominant, but they respectably did their jobs. And undrafted rookie center David Andrews filled in for the injured Bryan Stork and seemed to play an excellent game.

Even Marcus Cannon, who subbed in for stints at both tackle spots, looked good. Brady did take a sack with Cannon at left tackle, but that seemed more of an instance where you have to tip your cap to a well-executed safety blitz than it is one where you have to blame the left tackle.

With Stork gone for half the season and Ryan Wendell surprisingly inactive, the offensive line held up rather well. Credit to second-year O-line coach Dave DeGuglielmo for having them ready, and for the offense as a whole to incorporate a number of quick passes to simplify everything.

--Dion Lewis, to me, looked like a Kevin Faulk clone. Can we get that guy some Goodyear elbow pads?

--Hey, mister. I give your sign a D+. And that's only because I don't give out F's.

Patriots fan
A Patriots fan holds a sign directed at NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

--The defense has a ways to go, as Bradley Fletcher and Malcolm Butler had some plays they'd probably like back. The run defense also really struggled, so there will likely be cries bemoaning the losses of Darrelle Revis and Vince Wilfork for at least the early part of the season.

But in Week 1, it's rarely pretty, and a win is a win. And that's all that matters, and it's all the Patriots needed after unveiling this:

Read more from Michael Hurley by clicking here. You can email him or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.


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