Sure wasn’t pretty, but the Patriots rolled into Pittsburgh and took care of business against what many consider one of the AFC’s top teams. Despite being without quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers put up a fight, but ultimately couldn’t halt the Pats train cruising its way towards Houston, Texas.
First, I have to mention Legarrette Blount yet again. The man is simply taking all my words of hatred towards him, crumpling them into a ball, and aggressively stuffing them down my throat week in and week out. On Sunday, the Horse took 24 carries for 127 yards and found the end zone twice. When he gets through the line, he actually does resemble a bowling ball, except this bowling ball is 6 feet tall and 250 pounds of lean, Blount force. When the line can’t open up that hole though, he ain’t too good. Blount actually leads the league in rushes resulting in zero or negative yards. Still, good week for the Blount Horse as he was arguably the best player out there for the Pats offense on Sunday.
Next up, the quarterback, Tom Brady. Brady played pretty well in this one, but wasn’t his spectacular, dazzling, usual self. He threw for only 222 yards with 19 completions on 26 passing attempts, but did pick up 2 more touchdowns to bring his season total to 8. By the way, the Patriots 3 different quarterbacks combined have yet to throw an INT through the first 7 games. Interestingly enough, Brady has dominated the Steelers in every way possible since the Mike Tomlin era commenced in 2007 with 19 passing touchdowns, 0 INT’s, and an average of over 300 yards per game. Domination at its finest.
The dominant tight end duo that has received nothing but high praise and score a whole lot of touchdowns was held in check, for the most part, by Pittsburgh. Marty B was held to 1 catch for 5 yards, and Gronk had 4 grabs for 93 yards and a score, but a large portion of that yardage came on a few big plays here and there. What the tight ends did do that played a very, very crucial role in the Patriots attack but didn’t show up in the box score was draw heavy coverage from the Pittsburgh secondary. The result, Julian Edelman being covered by a linebacker, Lawrence Timmons. With the mismatch, Edelman brought in a season high 9 catches.
So, all I asked for was the offensive line to keep opposing defenses off of Tom Brady and they actually did. Kind of. Brady was hit only 3 times, but man these penalties make me even more mad than seeing my franchise quarterback/idol/hero/favorite non-family member on the planet take a hit. 5 holding calls is just way too many, but the surprising part is that none were called on star offensive lineman Marcus Cannon!
Bend but don’t break, bend but don’t break, bend but don’t break. So we’re back to this type of defense again, huh? Going up against an inexperienced backup quarterback, I, along with many others, expected New England to send the heat and try to get the stagnant pass rush into rhythm. Well, that didn’t happen. The Pats have had trouble generating much pressure at all this season, and surprisingly elected to send only 3 rushers on a majority of plays. With that light rush, the Pats recorded 0.0 sacks. In simpler terms, they had none at all. The added coverage did help in taking away a lot of deep passes that Pittsburgh oh, so dearly loves, but exposed the Pats underneath. Le’veon Bell recorded 31 total touches that tallied up for 147 total yards. The other offensive phenom on Pittsburgh, Antonio Brown, got his due with 7 catches for 106 yards. Luckily for New England, yards don’t count as points!
6-1, still on top of the AFC, no competition in sight, we’re onto Buffalo with our glorious leader Tom at the helm this time, Pats by 12.
Wake me up for the Championship.
By Mark Panzini