Every week, PFW associate editor and Patriots writer Kevin Fishbain will identify three up-and-comers and three players/units going in the opposite direction in the Patriots stock report.
1. RB Kevin Faulk: There were thoughts that Faulk might retire, and after he was re-signed prior to the season, some questioned if he would make the team. In his first game back after tearing his ACL in Week Two of last season, Faulk was very involved in the offense. He had six carries for 32 yards and five catches for 20 yards. We know what Faulk brings to the team in terms of intangibles and leadership, but few expected him to make an impact on the field at this point in his career coming off a major injury.
2. DT Kyle Love: It's pretty difficult to offer any positive notes on the defense, but Love was a force in the middle of the D-line. He had one sack for 11 yards and had a pressure up the gut against Ben Roethlisberger in the first quarter that forced an incomplete pass. Love's play has made up for the fact that Albert Haynesworth isn't making much of an impact.
3. TE Rob Gronkowski: It must be something about playing Pittsburgh. After scoring three touchdowns against the Steelers last season, Gronk had another productive effort, leading the Patriots with seven catches for 94 yards. He should have had more than 100 yards and a touchdown if the Patriots had challenged his catch that the officials ruled down at the one-yard line late in the fourth quarter. With the Steelers' defense bottling up Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez, Gronkowski stepped up and had his best game since Week Three.
1. Running game: The Patriots were playing from behind from the get-go and expected to find a lot of success through the air like they did against Pittsburgh last season. But without any semblance of a run game, there was no balance and Tom Brady was kept in check. The Patriots had 43 rushing yards, which includes a nine-yard output by BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who had been effective in the team's past three games.
2. CB Antwaun Molden: With Leigh Bodden cut and Ras-I Dowling on injured reserve, the Patriots put their trust in Molden as the team's third corner, but the nickel back struggled on Sunday. He was pulled in the third quarter in nickel situations for Phillip Adams.
3. Special teams: This is usually where the Patriots shine, but it was ugly on Sunday. Stephen Gostkowski is the goat after missing a 42-yard field goal and botching an onside kick attempt. In his first kickoff returns with the Patriots, Danny Woodhead couldn't find much room to run, averaging 18.5 yards on four returns, with a long of 21 yards.