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D Gets Aggressive.
and 10, Pats matched up in a 4-2 Nickel. They ran Bell. He ran for a few.
"Well he's a great player. They have another great back in Williams
and he did a good job," BB said. "He got downhill on us. He kind
of burst through the line of scrimmage, had a little different running
style than Bell. They're both great backs but just different styles. He
was a problem. We dealt with him last year in the opener in 2015. If you
remember, and he ran well against us there. They have great depth in their
backfield. Those two guys are both really good. They're different but
they're both explosive, hard to tackle and good, tough runners. Whichever
one of them is in there is a problem for the defense." So he did try
to come back, but Pitt probably decided that having Williams at 100% was
better than have Bell at 75% or less.
and 8, Pitt lined up in a 3-Wide Singleback Twins-L. Pats matched up in a
3-3 Nickel. The Pats started rushing four. Rogers faked an end around to
the right. Sheard dropped out of the rush and ran out to the flat when
Rogers kept going over to his side. Ben had too much time again. They have
to start hitting him. He dumped if off to Williams in the left flat.
Williams ran for a First.
and 10, Pitt lined up in a Trips Right Weak Shotgun. The Pats matched up
in a 3-4 Nickel, with Chung in at ILB. Ben threw over the middle to Brown,
and McClellin took him down fast.
and 7, Pitt lined up Empty. Pats matched up in a 3-3 Nickel. Brown broke
free, and almost hit Big Ben. But he was just pushed past him at the last
second. Ben was able to step up, and hit Williams sneaking down the
sideline. He just scooted out of bounds for a First.
and 10, Pitt lined up in a Trips-Right Weak shotgun. Pats Match up in a
4-2 Nickel with five guys on the line. They ran a Slant to Rogers, and
Ryan took him down fast at midfield. And this is what the Pats defense
had just completed ten straight passes, but only for 71-yards. "It
was a challenge and I think we all took it personally," Ryan said.
"We understood that we had to win our matchups. They have a lot of
talent and are a great organization, and Big Ben is a great quarterback.
We had an opportunity on a great stage to go out and play one-on-one with
these guys and I think we did a great job. I think Malcolm [Butler] did a
tremendous job. I think Eric Rowe played a perfect game. And I think I
started a little slow but answered the call when I needed to. We're happy
with the win." They make you work for every yard.
and 3, Pitt lined up in a 3-Wide Singleback Stack-Left 1 for 1 run. The
Pats matched up in a 4-3, with two OLB on the blindside and both Chung and
McCourty in the Box. They ran Williams and the Pats stuffed him. Sheard
and Branch hit him first, and Van Noy hit him last.
and 2, Pitt lined up Empty. The Pats matched up in a 3-3 Nickel, with five
guys on the line. They rushed three. Brown dropped out of the rush to
cover the flat. It gave Ben too much time. He threw to Brown in a hole in
the zone on the second level.
and 10, Pitt lined up in a 3-Wide Strong shotgun at the 32. The Pats
matched up a in a 3-3 Nickel.Ben
threw in rhythm to James on a quick Out.
and 10 at the 21, Pitt lined up in a 3-Wide Strong shotgun. Big Ben had
time, and lofted a softy to Hamilton in the Endzone. But Ryan was close
enough to make him drop it. Nice coverage.
and 10, 3-Wide Singleback. Pats in a 3-3 Nickel. They ran Williams and
Brown and Branch took him down at the Two-Minute warning. 3rd and 9 at the
19, Pitt lined up in a Trips-Left Strong shotgun. Pats matched up in a 2-4
Nickel. The rush couldn't get to Ben again. He lofted one to James.
was taken down inches short. Chung tackled him from behind and Harmon
crashed into him at the half-yard line and drove his head into the turf.
"That was huge. I told [Harmon] as soon as he got in the sideline
that was a big tackle, from Chung hustling and then [Harmon] making sure
he didn't get across the goal line," McCourty said. "That gave
us a shot and that's how we play defensively. It's all about the next
play. It's about everybody fighting hard to finish and I think that's what
we were able to do. This defense has been well balanced with the ability
to adjust to what teams are doing.
we had a good game plan coming in, then as the game progressed, with no
Bell out there, we got a lead, the passing game being more prevalent, we
were able to just make certain adjustments and do different things that
helped us get the win at the end, so really just all 11 guys being
attention and being ready to make changes and trying to play well."
Chung showed great hustle catching up to him.
Harmon slammed in and stopped him a half yard from the Endzone. "It
was big, but what was even bigger was what the defense did after that. All
I did was keep him (from scoring) and they were on the one-yard
line," Harmon said rather humbly. "We've got to talk about what
the defensive line and the linebackers did stuffing them on the first two
plays and then got negative yardage to put them in a third-and-five or
third-and-six. Then they held them to three so that was a great job by the
defensive front and the linebackers really stuffing that line." They
all rolled out of bounds in a heap.
refs signaled touchdown. "We always talk about swarming and getting
to the ball," Harmon said. "Not leaving your man out to dry. I
saw the ball thrown over there and I wanted to make sure I got there
before he crossed the line. It ended up being a big play for the
defense." That swarm literally saved a TD.
and Goal from the 1, Goal line vs Goal line. Chung blitzed from the edge
and got Williams two yards behind the LOS. "Those guys really work
well together, and we've had some moving parts in there, guys playing
different roles. Shea and obviously High. Kyle [and] Elandon. Those guys
all played a significant role for us," BB said. "The
communication at times is a little bit challenging if the green dot is on
one guy and he's not on there then it falls to somebody else. They do a
good job of that. Our safeties do a good job with that communication as
well. So we've been able to handle it. But it's a little bit of a
challenge when the same person is not in there for every single snap as
far as that part of it goes.
has given us great leadership all year. Again, it's a young group. Kyle is
new. Shea is new. Shea was really a defensive end and outside linebacker
and then we moved him back in midseason. Elandon is a young player so
Dont'a has really done a good job of bringing that group together, giving
them great leadership, helping the communication and those guys have
embraced it and they've grown themselves. That's a good room.
Flores has done a real good job with that group, the transition that we
had in midseason and so forth, but he's done a great job of improving that
every week and those guys work hard. They care. They try to get it better.
When we make a mistake they correct it and work hard to fix it. That's
been a big improvement over the course of the last second half of the
season. It's been huge for us defensively." Hightower and McClellin
got in on the tackle as well, and Elandon Roberts got in a hit.
and goal from the Three. Valentine took Williams down. "I was just
trying to make the play," Valentine said. "I didn't know when
they handed it off. I just ran in there and tried to make a play."
Valentine burst right past the ORG, and dived at Williams in the backfield
and tackled him.
was a truly great play by Valentine. "I think it was a really big
stop. They could have went into the half with momentum," Valentine
said. "Just to make a big stop right there was really good and it was
what our team needed. We came out of the half with a good pace and we got
a three-and-out. It just kept rolling for us so I felt like that was a
pretty big stop and I felt like it helped the team out a lot." It was
another huge game changing play by the underrated Pats-D.
was pure domination by the Pats D-line. "I think the key is the pad
level and the surge that we got and just understanding what type of run
they're going to have for us and where they're running the ball at,"
Flowers said. "It was a good play call and a lot of our guys executed
well." Branch and Flowers burst into the backfield as well.
and goal, Ben missed Rogers in the flat. "That's a challenging
situation for the defense because of number one, the skill level of the
players that are involved. The offense has patterns to beat whichever way
you want to play it," BB said. "So if you lock it, then they
want to pick you. If you combo it and play some type of inside-out
coverage, then if both guys go the same way, double inside or double
outside, then the player that's waiting for the other part of the release
gets out-leveraged and they have you there. So there's some different
combinations that you can do defensively, and offensively there are
several combinations that you can run that beat the combination that the
defense is using, or give you the best leverage chance of beating
it." But they couldn't beat Rowe and Ryan on that play.
had to let James burst up the middle, so he couldn't pick off Rowe.
"So that's really what that is. I'd say for the most part whatever
pattern is called is probably going to get run by the offense. I don't
think they would necessarily change the pattern based on what they think
the call might be, but they could I guess if they knew for sure what it
was," BB continued about the play. "It's really defensively
trying to get the right leverage on what you think the pattern is going to
be. If you just play it the way you feel most confident in playing it or
depending on which receiver is where and so forth, what the overall
formation or look is. Maybe you prefer one over another based on a certain
tendency. But that's the game, it's a game within a game there matching
three-on-three, three-on four, two-on-three, two-on-two, those
combinations." Ryan took the inside WR who was lined up outside.
and Coates crossed behind James to try and pick off one of the DBs.
"Pittsburgh does that a lot. They're very good at it. They have a lot
of tight formation looks and they motion into them at times as well,"
BB said. "Also they add another level. They didn't on that play, but
that adds another level of communication and coordination with those
players when those formations get built with motion as opposed to aligned.
But again, one of the advantages of aligning in them is to read the
defense and kind of see how they're going to play them so it gives the
quarterback a cleaner look. That's a little bit of a cat and mouse game
there." McCourty, Rowe, and Ryan had to play Trips-right perfectly,
and they did.
kept them out of the Endzone three straight great defensive plays.
"Honestly, I don't think anyone said anything. When that circumstance
comes up, we have to go out there and keep them out of the end zone,"
Branch said. "We did a great job doing that. We didn't really think
to make any motivational speeches or anything. We just went out and did
it." All three levels of the defense had to make multiple plays to
keep them out of the endzone.
kept the Pats ahead over a TD. "It was big for us," Long said.
"It kept it a two-score ball game so it was a momentum swing and from
there we really didn't look back." Pitt never recovered from the Goal
Pats defense really stood up to one of the best O-lines in football on the
Stand. "Those plays are good team defensive plays. When everybody
[is] in a situation like that. Especially in the running game, when
everybody does their job and defeats the blocker and wins the gap that
they're in. The runner has got to run somewhere and that's the guy that'll
make the tackle," BB said. "Or if somebody eats up a couple of
blocks and somebody comes free like Vince [my man Valentine] did. Then he
is the guy to make the tackle. It's good team defense. It's everybody
doing a great job and doing a great job of tackling. The guys that got the
opportunity to make the play made it, but they couldn't have done it
without all of the other people around them. Those two plays combined with
the third-down play, which is part of the whole thing, because you can
have two good plays and then one bad one and it all gets erased, so it was
a big three play sequence for us." They beat the Pitt O-line up on
that goal line stand.
Stand was proof again of how hard it is to score a TD on this defense.
"Yeah! I mean big. We've seen multiple times games or in some
cases seasons come down to a yard, and so that was a big yard there at the
end of the half," BB said. "The tackle [by Chung and Harmon],
and then the 1st down goal line play was stopped. Valentine got the second
one. And then we were able to get a stop there on 3rd down." The Pats
will be favored in the Super Bowl, because of their defense.
will have to be just as big and tough against a much more dynamic Falcon
offense. "So that was a big four point swing and then the stop in the
end of the third quarter or fourth quarter? Fourth quarter, right?
Obviously it was really 11 points there that we saved. So yeah, it
was huge. That was huge. Our red area defense has gotten better
throughout the course of the year. It wasn't the first quarter of the
season. We've always put a lot of time into it but the results improved
and that helped us again tonight." If the Pats D limits the Falcons
to field goals then the Pats win easy. Pats-17.