Alan Branch

Pats defense again looking vulnerable with Steelers up next

The Patriots have shown only glints of vulnerability under Bill Belichick.

That's why it was so unexpected this season to see New England putter to a 2-2 start and drop to the bottom of the NFL's defensive rankings after allowing 30 or more points in three of those games.

That changed during an eight-game win streak in which the Patriots' defense was the league's stingiest unit, allowing just 11.8 points per game.

The turnaround also came despite the Patriots losing linebacker Dont'a Hightower to a season-ending injury, and others for various periods of time along the way.

But that run of fortune was halted with Monday's 27-20 setback at Miami . It was the...

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