PITTSBURGH -- You could rattle off Tom Brady mistakes Sunday as if they were freak reindeer.
There was a near-pick on first down and another on a screen. There were overthrows late, and a fadeaway prayer in the face of pressure he thought he'd seen.
And you'll recall the fourth-quarter pick, a heave off his back foot that looked like a desperation shot to Julian Edelman or Rob Gronkowski.
"I was just trying to flick it out of bounds," Brady said. "I didn't want to take the sack. Shouldn't happen."
Brady, whose play in clutch-and-late situations has so often bailed out the Patriots, did not have all the answers in his team's 17-10 loss to the Steelers. He finished 25-for-36 for 279 yards, a touchdown and a back-breaking interception with 7:43 remaining in the game and the Patriots down, 14-10.
STEELERS 17, PATRIOTS 10
It was the second straight week in which a Brady decision wiped points off the board.
Last weekend against the Dolphins a missed touchdown to Chris Hogan was followed up by a sack taken on third down with no timeouts. This time, though pressured by two Steelers, it was his choice to try to throw it away in Edelman's general vicinity. Joe Haden was there in coverage to make the easy interception.
"They made some plays," Brady said. "We certainly had some opportunity out there and I give them credit because they made important plays when they needed to. But our defense played great. Special teams played great. But we have to do better offensively. Tough loss."
STEELERS 17, PATRIOTS 10
Brady was clearly frustrated when he took the podium after the game and answered questions about Rob Gronkowski's lack of production (two catches for 21 yards on five targets), his team's road struggles, and its first five-loss season since 2009.
He seemed miffed at the way the Patriots handled the crowd noise (four false-start penalties, including one on the final drive). "I mean, we work on it so much. I don't think that's surprising us." And he didn't really hold back when asked about the three holding penalties his offensive line incurred (including one by Shaq Mason on the final drive). "Obviously there's holding on every play in the NFL. That's what we do. We hold. It's just whether you get called or not . . . I haven't seen them. What do you guys think? Hard to tell? That's how I felt."
When Brady was asked to lead his offense on a game-winning drive, they stalled, stalled again, and ultimately failed.
Likely hoping to avoid a game-ending pick in the game's final moments, Brady overthrew into the Steelers end zone twice, not giving Gronkowski or anyone else a chance to make a play. On the last play of the game, Brady drifted away from pressure when he didn't really need to -- much like he did on the miss to Hogan in Miami -- and his pass fell incomplete.
"It's not any one thing," Brady said after. "It's a lot of things collectively."
Over the better part of the last two decades, it's been unusual to lump Brady into that collective mess when things go wrong. But there was no doubt on Sunday that his play was among the issues his team had offensively.
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