PITTSBURGH -- Following his team's 25-17 loss to the Steelers on Sunday, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick explained the performance in his usual fashion, saying that his team was outcoached and outplayed.
Belichick admitted it "wasn't our best effort," but added that he "wasn't questioning the effort" of his team.
"It wasn't very good execution," Belichick continued. "We just couldn't get it done."
While the Patriots' red-zone defense held the Steelers to three field goals and kept the score close, there was no better example of failed execution than an onside-kick attempt late in the fourth quarter.
With the Patriots trailing by six points, and with a full complement of timeouts, Stephen Gostkowski's onside-kick attempt failed to travel the required 10 yards, while one wing of his return team was flagged for being offsides on the kick. The Steelers took over from the Patriots' 37-yard line, and didn't surrender the ball until 28 seconds were left in the game.
"We had confidence in the play," Belichick said of the decision. "We thought we would execute it well and give us a chance to get the ball. It obviously didn't work out."
The botched kick was symptomatic of the Patriots' struggles in all three phases on the game, none more apparent than a pass defense failing to stop the Steelers for long stretches of the game.
Two days after releasing veteran cornerback Leigh Bodden, the Patriots went into Sunday's game with Texans castoff Antwaun Molden as their nickel cornerback. Later in the game, however, Molden was replaced by Phillip Adams, who has been an on-again, off-again member of the roster over recent weeks.
"We do what we think is best every week," Belichick said of the decision to replace Molden. "Whatever we think gives us the best chance to win. That's what we've always done. That's what we'll continue to do, whatever is best for the team."