Beyond headsets, Steelers sloppy in start against Patriots

PITTSBURGH (AP) Sure, the headsets didn't work so hot, but neither did much else for the Pittsburgh Steelers in an opening loss to the Patriots.

''We can say this and that, but at the end of the day they caught the balls,'' defensive end Cam Heyward said. ''We didn't convert. We didn't get off the field, and we didn't win in every situation.''

Linebacker James Harrison said the team learned in the 28-21 loss that it needs to tackle better, and play better on third down and in the red zone.

The Steelers also had trouble with Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who scored three touchdowns and seemed impervious to attempt to jam him at the line of scrimmage.

''The guy's a great player, and he got open,'' Steelers inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons said Friday. ''And Tom Brady's a great quarterback. He found him every time. We've just got to be better from an assignment point of view.''

Harrison said there were two instances where Gronkowski was left uncovered, exposing problems the Steelers had getting matched up properly and knowing the personnel on the field.

''And he made a few great catches,'' Harrison said.

Timmons said the Steelers were supposed to have help from their safeties over the top, but that assistance was late or ineffective.

Will Johnson was the Steelers short-yardage and goal-line back. He scored one touchdown, but couldn't convert when the club had a first-and-goal at the 1 later in the game.

''We have to have those, especially when we're that close,'' Johnson said. ''We definitely needed to punch that one in.''

The Steelers host the San Francisco 49ers on Sept. 20.

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AP NFL website: http://pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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