December 8, 2016

Yeah, We Saw This One Coming

By Bruce Allen, Patriots Daily Staff

I don’t mind admitting it. I couldn’t come up with a realistic scenario in which the Patriots could beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. I really should know better.

Hasn’t 10 years of Bill Belichick taught us he doesn’t take bad losses lightly? That having Tom Brady as your quarterback means that when the games get big, you’re going to have a chance? Haven’t we learned that what happened last week almost never translates into this week? (Keep that in mind for this Sunday against the Colts.)

The Patriots Were After Roethlisberger All Night Long

The Patriots came out last night and dominated the Steelers right from the opening drive. The final score was 39-26, but the game was not that close. The Patriots were up 23-3 after three quarters, and called off the dogs late in the game, going to a more conservative “prevent” style defense that made the game closer than it needed to be. Still, when the Steelers were attempting to close the gap, they still were unable to stop the New England offense when it counted.

Brady was brilliant last night, assisted ably by a dominant performance by his offensive line, which gave him all the time he needed to throw, and kept his jersey pretty much pristine the entire night. Rookie Rob Gronkowski came out from the shadows of fellow rookie TE Aaron Hernandez by catching three touchdown passes from Brady. BenJarvis Green-Ellis ran hard, and Wes Welker and Deion Branch were constantly open.

This wasn’t 2004? When Brady run the QB sneak into the end zone and spiked the ball furiously while staring into the Heinz Field stands, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Willie McGinest on the sidelines near the end of the 2001 AFC title game yelling “Cancel those reservations!” or Deion Branch in the 2004 game waving to a Steelers defender on his way into the end zone. It wasn’t a playoff game, but it felt like one.

Where do we begin with the defense? They were outstanding. They were everything they weren’t last week and last season. Watching a game like this gives you real hope heading into the final seven games of the season. How far can they go? What can they achieve? They were so impressive last night, getting pressure on Roethlisberger, and playing tight in coverage while also stuffing the run. They even got off the field on third down most of the game.

Even a number of head-scratching calls and non-calls by the officials could ruin this one. The Steelers got dirty, and it didn’t matter. On at least three separate occasions they took took cheap shots at Tom Brady – James Harrison dove at his knees (isn’t that supposed to be a penalty?) LaMarr Woodley shoved Brady hard in the back after he released the ball (which was called a penalty) and apparently Troy Polamalu attempted to twist Brady’s head off his shoulders at the bottom of the pile after Brady’s TD run – which caused Logan Mankins to freak out, and start tossing guys off of Brady after the play.

I’ve rarely been so happy to have been very wrong about something. I’ve learned my lesson.

Comments

  1. Great redemption by Gronk. That was nice to see. And why can’t the pass rush be this ferocious against all teams? *scratches head*

    Bruce, I’m surprised you thought the Pats would be killed in this game. I thought the exact opposite due to the history between these teams. The personel matchups seem to always favor the Pats vs. Steelers. It seems the overrated Dick Lebeau can’t/won’t adjust to what the Pats offense does time and time again. The Pats are simply not intimidated going into Heinz Field.

    I’m more worried about Indy, for the same reasons I stated above: Indy has won repeatedly, home and away vs. New England. They are not afraid. The only loss they’ve suffered in recent memory was a max out effort in 2007. I think Indy wins next week because they won’t even bother running it…they’ll toss it up and down this still soft secondary.

  2. It’s in my nature to worry. I worried last week even though, as Borges puts it, Brady owns the Steelers. I worry even more this week because the Colts have owned the Patriots since 2005 (5-1 overall, 4-1 regular season). I worry that the play on the defensive side is too conservative when the Patriots have a lead. I worry that the Colts will force the Patriots into their sub-defense to defend against their passing offense. I worry that the non-existent pass rush, from the Patriots’ sub-defense, will give Manning all the time he needs to cheery-pick the receiver to throw the ball to. I worry I will be sucking down Pepto watching the Patriots on Sunday. However there is a part of me that hopes, all the worries will be put to rest by 7 PM this Sunday with another resounding victory for the Patriots.

    Chris, you should use the song “Trouble” by Ray LaMontagne as the inspiration for your Worry Wart column this week. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3pltmw6cmI

    • Chris Warner says:

      Sands, good song, though I have to say it’s been tainted a bit by the dog/insurance commercial:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5G7bGBUlx2M

      Believe me, Peyton is the number one worry. Also, Bruce, even though it seemed as if the Pats got off the field on third down, the Steelers converted 51 percent of the time. Shows how rough NE’s D has been that more than half feels like a huge improvement.

  3. “And why can’t the pass rush be this ferocious against all teams? *scratches head*”

    The answer to that question would be Patrick Chung. When he is playing he is all over the field… and then the Pats can get a decent pass rush. For most of the 4th, he was out of the game, and playing injured. I think that if Patrick Chung is playing next weekend against the Colts, they will win. If not, then it could go either way. One thing to consider is that this Colts team is not the same as the ones of the last 5 years that have gone 5-1 against us. For one thing they are hampered with a lot of injuries. But they do have Peyton Manning,…

  4. I’m with Max… Pat Chung is a player. He may prove to have coverage issues, but pass rush, tackling, toughness, speed… they were all on display.
    Speaking of safeties… Polomaulu (sp?) plays like Tarzan against the rest of the league, but plays like Jane against the Pats. They have him so figured out, it’s incredible. He looked so lost.

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