1. Offensive Line
2. Defensive Backs
3. Overall Coaching - specifically Offensive Coordinator
Unfortunately, the Steelers were exposed in these facets of the game and looked powerless to adjust. The chess match was already figured from the first move by Belichek and his staff.
Perhaps they were powerless to adjust from a personnel standpoint. I know this much, one team was much better prepared than the other, injuries or not. The schemes and counterpunching employed by each team were in plain view for all to see. Is there any question which coaching staff did a better job?
If the Steelers were more healthy, it would have been a closer game but the outcome would have been the same. Gay would still be getting burned, Farrior would still be isolated on a younger, quicker guy, and the offensive line would not have been much better because they just aren't very good to begin with.
As far as our offensive game plan goes - same old song and dance there. We can run against some teams, some of the time. We can not run against good coaches who take it away through scheme and/or good defensive personnel. This is not your 1990's run game. Unfortunately, it's not our 1990's defensive backfield either.
One thing that entered my mind watching the game... In games where things are falling apart - what is Tomlin supposed to be doing? We all know he is a Tampa 2, 4-3 coach by trade. He has not coached offense in a meaningful way since being in the NFL. What does he sugest/change/demand be done during a game like this last one? LeBeau is the guru and BA is the offensive guy. Special teams aren't all that special, especially (sorry) our Kicker Dick - #3. What exactly is he doing? Others have referred to Belichek and his involvement, particularly on defense. What is our HC doing in the midst of the game?
I suppose this sounds harsh and infantile to some. It's not meant to be. It is meant to provoke an honest and direct evaluation of what this team is made of and how they go on from here. It doesn't look good, even though they may end up 11-5 and in the playoffs. Not good in the sense that they don't look capable of beating the best teams out there.