The Steelers have allowed a shocking six plays this season of 51 yards or more.
More of the problem, though, is the fact five of those six plays have come in the first quarter of their games. It's a 60-minute game but the confidence factor - both an increase for the opponent and a detraction for the Steelers - can force a defense off-schedule, and can lead to mistakes of over-aggression.
And the points those plays create don't help the cause, either.
Terrelle Pryor's 93-yard run is the shining example. Minnesota's Greg Jennings' 75-yard touchdown catch-and-run is up there as well. Andy Dalton's big throw down the season to tight end Tyler Eifert didn't help the Steelers at all. Perhaps these are only examples and not causes, but the Steelers lost all three of these games, and they trailed all of them in the fourth quarter.
New England has been King Big Play over the last several years. Quarterback Tom Brady has been super-human against the Steelers, having tormented the Steelers, both in Pittsburgh and Foxborough, throughout his career.
This isn't the same Patriots team, or at least it's no more the same than the Steelers are the same team. Whether the team, head coach Bill Belichick or Brady himself will mention it, Brady has a throwing hand injury to some degree, and that, along with a general lack of weaponry at the wide receiver position, has the Patriots struggling to hit on big plays.
The once mighty passing game is turning Jacksonvillian in New England.
Brady is 15th in the NFL with 1,824 passing yards. His 5.94 yards per attempt mark is 30th in the NFL, leading Cleveland's Brandon Weeden, Tampa Bay's Mike Glennon and Minnesota's Josh Freeman.
Or, he's leading no one.
At least with the feast-or-famine Raiders, a quarterback who could make a big play was involved. It doesn't appear anyone on the Patriots has the ability to pound away on the Steelers' Achilles' heel; the big play.
But the Steelers will have to prove they can come out and play well from the start of the game. Hurt hand or not, lack of offensive explosion or not, the Patriots can hit plays down the field like everyone else.
The Steelers and Patriots kick off at 4:25 p.m. ET Sunday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
- Steelers Injury Report: DeCastro misses Wednesday practice
- Jarvis Jones says Steelers want him to be more technical and technique-sound
- Steelers vs. Patriots: Bill Belichick suggests alternative method to preparing for Ben Roethlisberger
- Roethlisberger wants to see Brown make big plays if he's going to complain
- Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders among lowest drop rate receivers in NFL
- Steelers Film Room: Plenty of blame to go around in Week 8 loss to Raiders
- 5 Burning Questions on the 2-5 Pittsburgh Steelers