Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe leads off with a game review. "Their baseball brothers, the Red Sox, are proof that all streaks must end, winning the World Series last week after an 86-year drought," writes Cafardo. "So as if to balance the slate, the sports gods yesterday looked down upon New England and said, 'Do not be greedy.'"
Cafardo also reports on the injury to Pro-bowl cornerback Ty Law, whose first-quarter departure signaled disaster for an already depleted Patriots secondary. "The Patriots were, as usual, mum on Law's injury, initially indicating he was "questionable" to return and then "doubtful" by the second half," writes Cafardo.
Aaron Harlan of the Globe praises the performance of Steelers rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who withstood his toughest challenge to date with a mistake-free performance against the vaunted Pats D. "If nothing else, the outing validated Roethlisberger among any remaining doubters," writes Harlan.
Harlan goes on the other side of the football to laud the efforts of Steelers linebacker Joey Porter, who wreaked havoc on the Patriots offense all day long. "He led the Steelers in nearly every defensive category. He had eight tackles. The three sacks and two forced fumbles. Heck, he even broke up a pass," writes Harlan.
Also in the Globe, Joe Burris reviews the tough day for quarterback Tom Brady. "Brady's performance underscores the point that as he goes, so does New England. Yesterday, he completed 25 of 43 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns but was intercepted twice and sacked four times for 28 yards," writes Burris.
Burris also looks at the defensive performance, one that spelled doom for the Pats.
Ron Borges of the Globe describes the loss as a system failure, citing the many things that went wrong to take the Pats away from their game plan. "One loss does not a season break, however, and it should be noted this one came with Belichick's troops depleted with running back Corey Dillon, tackle Tom Ashworth, wide receiver Deion Branch, and cornerback Tyrone Poole out before the game began, and cornerback Ty Law and tackle Matt Light joining them on the sideline by halftime," Borges writes.
Bob Ryan checks in in an attempt to put the loss into perspective. "There is nothing disgraceful about losing to the Steelers. Pittsburgh is a good team. The Steelers entered the game with a 5-1 record and they regarded this game as something akin to an mid-semester exam," writes Ryan.
In The Boston Herald, Michael Felger handles game review.
In his notebook, Felger makes a note of the many injuries, before and during yesterday's loss, which contributed to the unfortunate outcome.
Kevin Mannix of the Herald describes the somber mood in the locker room, but asserts that "it had nothing to do with the fact that their record run of consecutive victories ended at 21 in front of the largest crowd ever to see a football game at this facility. It dealt with the fact that now they're carrying a one-game losing streak into next week's game in St. Louis."
Rich Thompson of the Herald notes Brady certainly took it on the chin yesterday, but looks forward to moving on. "The quarterback is confident the Patriots (6-1) can regroup from their worst loss since the 2003 season-opener at Buffalo when they face the Rams in St. Louis Sunday," Thompson writes.
Thompson also reports on the rough day had by the secondary. "The Patriots began the game with right cornerback Tyrone Poole on the inactive list. That alone was a bad omen that the club's NFL record 21-game win streak was in jeopardy," writes Thompson.
Shelley Anderson goes into the visitor's locker room, where the Steelers are walking tall. The talk all week had been that, despite their 5-1 record, the Steelers had not beaten any quality teams. "Pittsburgh, however, convincingly drubbed the defending Super Bowl champions to get to 6-1 and make a strong case as the top team in the AFC," writes Anderson.
Anderson commends the performance of Roethlisberger, who used the team's bye week last week to scrutinize Bill Belichick's tendencies. "While he was trouncing the Patriots' winning streak, Roethlisberger - the nickname ``Big Ben'' is taking hold - ran his own streak to 5-0 as a starter, second best in NFL history for a rookie quarterback starting the season," Anderson writes.
The Herald also runs another excerpt from Felger's book, Tales From the Patriots Sideline.
In The Providence Journal, Tom Curran does game review and puts the 21-game winning streak into perspective, as it now goes officially into the record books. " An unprecedented winning streak died yesterday. And the way it ended actually amplified how amazing the streak had been," writes Curran.
In his notebook, Curran takes stock of the many Patriots injuries, and attempts to forecast what the team will do to work around them.
In the Journal, Jim Donaldson contends that it is a good thing the Patriots lost, as they can now move forward without incessant talk of the streak hanging over them. "The Patriots were going to lose sooner or later. And, given that they'd won an NFL-record 21 in a row, sooner was the much more likely scenario," writes Donaldson.
Donaldson also extends praise to Steelers quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple, who, like his charge Roethlisberger, is enjoying success in his first NFL campaign. "Widely-known and highly-regarded for his offensive creativity and expertise in the passing game, Whipple left UMass to join Bill Cowher's staff in Pittsburgh in January," writes Donaldson.
In his notebook, Michael Parente of The Woonsocket Call points to some of the factors that led to the Pats downfall. While the injuries are an obvious reason, Parente notes the team suffered from letting Pittsburgh off to a fast start, something the Pats usually strive to do to their opponents.
In The Hartford Courant, Alan Greenberg provides game review.
Greenberg also points out that the Patriots were victimized by a lack of options, a result of the team's myriad injuries. "Although Brady would never admit it, he had to know there was a reasonable chance Sunday wasn't going to be much fun when he found out Patriots running back Corey Dillon (637 yards on 129 attempts) would be sitting out his first game of the season due to a foot injury," writes Greenberg.
In his notebook, Ian Clark of The Union Leader reports Belichick has never had success coaching his teams in Pittsburgh, a town where he is now 1-6 for his career. Clark also extends a Patriots MVP award to David Givens, and chronicles the roster changes that will come with the various injuries.
Len Pasquarelli of ESPN.com features the game in his Morning After, and has high praise for the poise of Roethlisberger. "He passed an acid test Sunday, not only in besting Belichick, but in throwing virtually every pass imaginable and leading his team to a victory that immediately stoked confidence in the Steelers locker room," writes Pasquarelli.