By Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

You know what? We’re going against our usual frame of mind here to say that New England’s 25-17 loss doesn’t really worry us. Pittsburgh played better from beginning to end, yet somehow only led by six in the last minute. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes – the defense has to improve; still, if these teams meet in the playoffs, the Patriots win.

Not that this game didn’t bring up other concerns heading into next week’s tilt vs. the Giants.

Two Weeks Are Too Weak: Mmm … New England had a bye week before traveling to Pittsburgh and got smacked around. The last time they had a bye week, they hosted the Jets in the playoffs and (insert last part of previous sentence here).

Considering the success of recent wild card teams in the playoffs and the failure of the Pats to win after byes, maybe the whole top-seeded thing isn’t the goal here. Maybe a week off isn’t what a playoff team really needs in these days of NFL parity.

Of course, we don’t have to deal with 300-pound maniacs trying to hurt us every week, so it’s hard to say for sure.

Blue Prints = Blue Prince: Nothing makes our prince of football, Tom Brady, more upset than losing, and it appears that the blueprint for beating the Pats has been well-established. Rush the QB with four or fewer, double-team Welker, man up on the tight ends. Simple, really.

The question is, who besides the Steelers and Cowboys can execute that game plan? How many teams have the personnel? We’ll find out for the rest of this season and, we hope, far into the playoffs.

Chad Miss-Him-If-You-Blink-o: Okay, for the final time (at this point, we’re running out of puns), we’ll discuss the Chad Ochocinco failed experiment. He has been practicing with the team since late July – that’s three full months, people! – and has yet to pick up the offense. He has nine catches for 136 yards and has gone two games without a reception.

For comparison, we recall Jabar Gaffney, the standard for veterans who come to Foxboro and contribute to this offense. Gaffney was signed in October 2006. Three months later, he was tearing up the Jets in a playoff win with eight receptions for 104 yards.

No preseason games. No Tom Brady whispering in his ear after every play. Gaffney ended up leading all Patriots receivers in the post-season (a dubious distinction in an anemic 2006, but still). This matters because…

Price Check: The Patriots have a fourth-round receiver waiting in the wings. Maybe Taylor Price will also have a hard time figuring out New England’s offense, as he came from Ohio University, where they apparently draw diagrams in the mud with sticks. But isn’t Price worth a try? Shouldn’t he get as much of a chance to fail as Ochocinco?

At the very least, you have a big, fast, young receiver looking to contribute. It just seems like he’s worth a shot. If only some other young pass-catcher could help out …

With A Grain Of Assault: Seriously, Julian Edelman? Now you get arrested?

Let’s just change the subject.

Play Missed He For Me: It seems that the Patriots learned their tackling skills while playing Ultimate Frisbee. Clean it up, you nitwits!

Bottom Of The Third: More horrible third-down defense for the Pats, disappointing due to a recent upward trend and the aforementioned two weeks to prep for Pitt. We have to think that defensive back Leigh Bodden’s dismissal threw New England’s defense out of sync.


So much for the 33rd overall pick of the draft. Cripes.

Not Elite, Just Eli: Listen, in our book, “elite” means top ten percent. That means that out of 32 teams, only three QBs get elite consideration – Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady. Done.

Now, some call Eli Manning a very good quarterback. Sounds fine; we have no argument with that. Just don’t try to bring down a pair of Hall of Fame quarterbacks by comparing them with someone who’s merely very good.

And, judging by this year’s defense, nothing New England does will detract from Eli’s apparent greatness. The discussion continues …

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