- Scott Brown, ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter
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Under the microscope: The Steelers simply aren't getting enough out of LaMarr Woodley, the highest paid defensive player in franchise history. Woodley has five sacks to lead the Steelers, but the veteran outside linebacker is nowhere near one of the top pass-rushers in the NFL. Nor has he done nearly enough to justify the six-year, $61.5 million contract the Steelers signed him to in August 2011. Woodley had eight tackles and a fumble recovery against the Patriots, but he didn't record a sack nor was he even credited with a quarterback hurry, even though New England started new right tackle Marcus Cannon. Outside linebacker Jason Worilds, meanwhile, had a pair of sacks and he tied with defensive end Cameron Heyward for the team lead in quarterback hurries with two.
Blitz stymies Big Ben: The offense rolled up almost 479 total yards, but it was hardly blameless in the 24-point loss. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger committed three turnovers and he struggled against the Patriots' blitz. Roethlisberger threw for 400 yards and four touchdowns, but he completed just 3 of 8 passes for 38 yards and one score when the Patriots blitzed the 10th-year veteran, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Roethlisberger also threw both of his interceptions when New England sent an extra defender after the quarterback, and at least two of his five sacks were the result of Roethlisberger holding onto the ball too long.
Rookie watch: The Patriots are 7-2 despite having 12 rookies on their 53-man roster. First-year wide receiver Aaron Dobson caught five passes for 130 yards and a pair of touchdowns, magnifying how little the Steelers have gotten out of their rookie class. Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones has barely been serviceable beyond special teams and safety Shamarko Thomas took his lumps against the Patriots with the rest of the secondary. Wide receiver Markus Wheaton has missed the last four games while recovering from surgery that fixed a broken right pinkie, and the Steelers have gone 16 games without a 100-yard rusher, even though rookie Le'Veon Bell has established himself as the clear No. 1 back.
Injury update: The Steelers did not come out of the game unscathed from an injury standpoint, but they did not have a laundry list of injuries, either. Cornerback Ike Taylor and inside linebacker Vince Williams each sustained concussions and right tackle Marcus Gilbert left the game with an ankle injury. Gilbert's injury does not appear to be serious, and the Steelers are hopeful of getting right guard David DeCastro back Sunday against the Bills. DeCastro did not play against the Patriots due to an ankle injury.