Steelers notebook: Gilbert still optimistic that season isn't lost
While the Steelers are off to their worst start in Mike Tomlin's seven seasons as coach, right tackle Marcus Gilbert still thinks they can turn it around.
“We're halfway through; we're not out of this thing,” Gilbert said. “We've still got a chance. At 2-6, we've just got to fight the second half of the season. It's far from over. We've got a long way to go.”
The Steelers trail the Bengals by 3 1⁄2 games in the AFC North.
• The Steelers are 2-6 at midseason for the fifth time since the 1970 NFL merger, matching the 1986, ‘88, 2003 and ‘06 seasons. They've never been 1-7 during a 16-game season, but they had that record in 1969, when the NFL played a 14-game season.
• A new field will greet the Steelers on Sunday when they play Buffalo in their second home game in seven weeks. The Heinz Field grass was resodded between the hash marks. The entire field will be replaced after four WPIAL championship games on Nov. 23, six days before Pitt plays Miami.
• Troy Polamalu and Lawrence Timmons were on the field for all 77 plays Sunday. Jason Worilds, who had two sacks, played 64 snaps; rookie Jarvis Jones played 22. Two starters — inside linebacker Vince Williams (37 plays) and nose tackle Steve McLendon (35 plays) — were on the field for fewer than half the Patriots' snaps. Rookie safety Shamarko Thomas played 33, linebacker Stevenson Sylvester played 13 and former starter Ziggy Hood played 24.
• Patriots receivers drew multiple pass interference penalties, leading safety Ryan Clark to say, “You play the Patriots, stuff like that happens.” He wouldn't elaborate. The referee, Walt Coleman, made the famous “tuck rule” call that benefited Tom Brady and New England in a 2001 season playoff game against Oakland, and the Patriots went on to win the first of their three Super Bowls.
• The Patriots had a 400-yard passer, three 100-yard receivers and a 100-yard rusher, only the third time in NFL history that's happened.
• Mat McBriar averaged 46.7 yards in his first game as Steelers punter, but his line-drive kick was returned 43 yards by Julian Edelman to set up the touchdown that gave New England a 34-24 lead in the fourth quarter. “I'm not proud of myself,” McBriar said. “(It) was terrible direction and aim, and it was a pretty pivotal moment of the game.”
— Alan Robinson