After most losses, when players are asked to pinpoint what went wrong, they often fall back on this tried and true response.
"Have to watch the film."
We heard a lot of that in the visitors locker room at Heinz Field Sunday in Pittsburgh, after the Patriots dropped a 25-17 decision to the Steelers.
OK, we're calling you on that bluff. It's Monday now. You've watched the film. What happened?
Particularly on third-and-long.
"Just a couple of big plays. I mean, we played good," safety Patrick Chung contended. "We executed at times – most times. All it takes is a couple of big plays. If you're playing a great game and give up a couple of big plays, that could be the difference in the game."
Were those breakdowns more mental or physical?
"Depends on how you look at it," head coach Bill Belichick answered. "Bottom line is we just have to execute a little bit better. There are things they did that obviously caused some problems. We either didn't make adjustments to it quick enough or in some cases we tried to adjust to it but we just couldn't get it done the way we needed to get it done. Overall, they just did a little better job than we did."
Steelers tight end Heath Miller, in particular, found huge openings in the New England defense in the first half, which helped Pittsburgh sustain long-distance, time-consuming, scoring drives.
"Again, it's a combination of things," added Belichick. "A couple of times we were [blitzing], a couple of times we weren't. Obviously we didn't do a very good job defending really anything on that first drive, but the tight end for sure. That wasn't a very good defensive series for us."
Offensively, it was a similar refrain.
"They played us in man coverage. It wasn't anything that I would say we hadn't really seen before, but probably a little higher percentage than what they've shown in other games," Belichick explained.
"We worked on it [in practice]. Again, we just have to do a better job in those situations – protecting, getting open, having plays that maybe could make everything happen a little bit quicker, a little bit cleaner. Again, I don't want to get into that everything was a self-inflicted wound. I think they played well, I think they did a lot of things well. We had some plays, not as many as they did and that's why the result was what it was. Obviously a competitive game that they outperformed us in."
Chung maintained, though, that there were positive aspects to take away from this loss.
"Yeah, we stopped them a couple times, held them to fields goals, but sometimes you have to hold them to zero. We played a good game and fought it all the way. They played a better game. They were ready.
"There was some miscommunication," he conceded, "but it only gets better with guys coming in and starting to play more with the guys that are in there. It's just going to get better as the weeks go along.
"Definitely encouraged. We played a good game, man. They just played a better one. They made more big plays than we did."
"We communicated well down in the red zone I guess," added safety James Ihedigbo. "That was a positive for us. We held them to field goals instead of touchdowns and letting the game get out of hand and we still, you know, with everything that happened we still had an opportunity to make some plays there at the end to kind of get back in it. But you know, then again, we came up short and it's something we're going to learn from."