2016 Season Blog.

Pats Vs Pitt.

7-Things For Sunday Night.


Greetings Pats Fans,

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The, Greatest Of All Time.


1. Grudge Match- We did actually play them already this year, sort of. "We're after every quarterback. I mean, what quarterback aren't we after? The rules are the rules," BB said. "It's our responsibility whether it's Ben Roethlisberger or Landry Jones or whoever it is. There is a target zone where you can legally hit the player and where we legally can't. There are things we can do and there are things we can't do. That's the rusher's responsibility to know that. For us, and for every team in the league, that's no different. So, yeah, he's a tough guy to get down. He's very hard [and] we've got to be aggressive. But at the same time, we've got to play within the rules or it's roughing the passer. It's as simple as that." But of course we didn't, because Big Ben was out.

We could be playing the best QB we faced all season this week. "He's a great player. He'll have those guys ready to go. He's been a leader for that team for a long time and they've won a lot of games with him behind the center," Brady said about Big Ben. "I know we've got our work cut out for us facing that defense. I know our defense has its work cut out for them facing that offense. It's going to be a great game." Really Russell Wilson and Big Ben are the two guys.

Their O-line has come together, and played great last week in KC. "It's everything. They're good across the board. [Steelers] have a good offensive line. The quarterback doesn't get sacked much. They run the ball well. So I think it all starts up front," BB said. "They have good skill players; they have a good quarterback, obviously Brown and Bell are dynamic players, tremendous with the ball in their hands. But, it's not all them. Again, the offensive line does a good job of making everything go; the running game, the passing game, you name it. They're solid, they're well-balanced, well-coached, good all the way around." The Pats can't let their O-line beat them.

Because Bell is the best RB in the NFL at playing peek-a-boo behind their big O-line. "I think defensively he really forces you to be disciplined. You jump out of there too quickly then you open up gaps and open up space. Le'Veon has a great burst through the hole. He doesn't really need long to get through there," BB said. "[Le'Veon] runs with good pad level. He's hard to tackle so if you don't get a full body on him then he'll run right through those arm tackles.

"[ Le'Veon] really forces everybody to be sound in their gaps. Like I said, getting off and jumping around blocks or trying to get to the hole too quickly just opens up cut-back lanes or stays in the front somewhere and he does a great job of finding it. I mean team defense is the only way to stop it. There's no one guy that can stop him. You're going to have to have everybody doing a good job in a number of different areas all the way across the front and then do a good job of tackling." They have to maintain gap control for longer against Le'Veon than any other RB in the NFL.

I don't think that Ben was very good last week. He had four or five wacky Osweiler-like throws that were off by yards. Which isn't good. It is very rare for QBs to play their best games two weeks in a row. We all saw how Brady was terrible last week as well. So this weeks game looks like a lot of points are going to be scored.

Both QBs will looking to play better this week than last week. "It will ultimately come down to those three hours Sunday night. You're right, we've done both. We've had great weeks and bad games and bad weeks and great games. We've had great weeks and great games and vice versa," Brady said. "You'd always feel better going into the game after you've had a great week of preparation. I think the team's done a good job understanding who we're playing against, how they play, why they win. We're playing a great football team. It's going to take our best three hours of the season against our biggest challenge all season. Hopefully we're up for it." Both QBs will be looking to make it up to their teammates.

The last time they played in Foxboro the coaching disparity was so bad that Tomlin started blaming the magic invisible radio waves for the Pats dominating them. "It’s definitely a difficult challenge, but we’ve faced him before," Tomlin said. "I think this is my third time going against him and it’s always a fun task. We always have a difficult game, a big game. And we have a top tier quarterback, too, so we just have to do our job on defense and give those guys back the ball and just try to disrupt his guys and get him out of control as much as possible." Does it sound like BB is in his head a little, because it does to me?

Coaches that "do what they do" don't do it very well against Belichick. "To me, they are just a defense that beats you. They line up. They get the pass rush after you. Their secondary is incredibly good. They are opportunistic. They don’t make mistakes," Le'Veon said. "They are a defense that you aren’t going to catch off guard. You’re not going to trick them. You’re not going to be able to hit them with the gimmicky-type of stuff. They play their fundamentals. They play them very well. They play as a unit. That’s what this sport is about. That’s why it’s the ultimate team sport." BB points out what they do, and his players destroy it.

Pitt not only has to overcome their history in this matchup, they have to travel up to Foxboro and win on the road. "They have quality players. They have solid schemes. They are fundamentally sound. They are never out of place. They are difficult to trick," Tomlin said. "They keep the ball in front of them. They are extremely ball aware. Guys like Malcolm Butler lead the charge in that regard. They do a great job of applying pressure and applying pressure in a bunch of different ways. Trey Flowers is an edge guy that leads them in sacks. But multiple people are going to come after you. Logan Ryan will come off the nickel. Patrick Chung will come off the nickel. All of their linebackers are capable. Quite often, they bogus pressure you or seemingly bring what appears to be pressure, and they drop folks. They are very multiple. But they are just simply a result-oriented or driven group. They are number-one in the league in terms of fewest points given up. I think they are number-two as a team in turnover ratio." That just makes everything so much more difficult.

Brady will have trouble facing their defense. "They're, again, a solid defense," BB said. "They made a couple of changes in the secondary. Burns and Davis have kind of taken over full-time. You know, Shazier came back for our game, but then he's been full-time after that. They really don't substitute any of those back end players. Gay comes in in nickel, but that's it. Timmons and Shazier never really leave the field, four [DBs] that never really leave the field. And I'd say a lot of the guys on the front, they play through it too. Tuitt, he's hardly ever out of there. Harrison and Dupree's back. Dupree, Davis, and Burns.

"You know Burns was playing anyway, but he's kind of taken over for Gay. Gay has really just been the nickel player. They've kind of become full-time players. Heyward, of course was out, but Hargrave has done a good job for them in there. Tuitt is a force. They're playing good team defense. Again, it's not one guy. There are 11 guys out there doing a good job." But Big Ben has to face the noise of the Pats crowd, and the Pats defense.

Now the one QB we faced this season who could win a game on his own was Wilson. He won that game on his own in Foxboro. Big Ben can win a game on his own. The problem that he faces is that his WRs are a bit of a one-man band. I was not super impressed with the rest of their WRs.

Look for the Pats to take Antonio Brown out of this game. They will try to bracket him with Ryan and Harmon as much as they can. In an odd stat, Brown only had one catch in the 2nd Half at KC. If the Pats can do that to him than they win. He is showing some chinks in his armor. His odd display on Facebook last week was over the top narcissistic to say the least. If they can take Brown out of the game, Pitt will have trouble making big plays in the passing game.

KC showed that Brown can be shut down, at least for Half. "We are going to have to stop him." Chung said. "We have to stop him. It really doesn't matter how much pressure he puts on anybody. We have to do our best to stop him and contain him. He is going to have his plays, but we have to do our job." Of course, the one catch did make in the 2nd Half won the game for Pitt on 3rd and 3 at the two-minute Warning.

Jesse James can make some big plays going down field. He has Gronk's size, but not his speed and quickness. So the Pats DBs have some experience, or two, of covering a 6-7 260-plus pound TEs in practice.

So if the Pats don't beat themselves, like they tried to do against Houston, than they win. "I think a lot of guys know how to get ready to go, and coach does a good job of preparing them. I think part of the veteran responsibility is to let some of those guys know anything that you might know as a player, or feel as a player going into a big game like this," Brady said. "So, you try to convey those messages over the course of the week of practice, and basically all the time. Wherever you are you try to let other guys know some of your experiences and how to deal with them. But a lot of people ask questions, and some people take the information and retain it and others don't. So, you just try to do the best you can do." Pitt has a good defense, but Houston's was better this season.

2. Win Or Go Home.- This is it! The Champ game is set, and only one team from the AFC can go to the Super Bowl. "Man! I mean, it's an all-or-nothing kind of thing," Hogan said. "We were fortunate enough to win the last game and now we're moving on. Everything that we have to do to win this game, we're putting everything we have into it. Whatever we feel as players, as coaches that we could do to help the team win, we're going to do it this week." Win or cry time.

There are no excuses, no places to hide, and no conflicts of interest. "We have to play our best game of the year," TB12 said. "I think that's what it comes down to. We've got to all do whatever it takes to be at our best for those three hours on Sunday night. They put a lot of pressure on you in a lot of areas. They're tough to prepare for. We're going to have to just rise to the occasion." Win or die time.

The Pats will have to bring everything this week to beat the Steelers. "As high as it gets. This is what we work all year for, for these games here in late January/February," Slater said. "So, everybody knows what's at stake. There are a lot of teams around the league and we all prepare and plan for the same thing, but only a few of us get to actually see that plan through. So, we're excited about where we are." They have to bring the highest level of energy and preparation.

So now it's time to roll out the ball and find a way to beat the Steelers. "It's so exciting," BB said.

This is incredibly the Pats 6th straight AFC Champ game. "It's always an honor to be participating in the AFC Championship game," BB said. "We have a great history and a great deal of respect for the Steelers, the organization, coach Tomlin, their staff, their players. They're a good football team, playing very well at the right time of the year now, the second half of the season. They have a good winning streak. They're good at everything, good in all three phases of the game. A very explosive and dynamic team, turn the ball over, score on offense pretty much from anywhere. Physical team, they play smart, good situational football. We've seen them do it throughout the course of the year and in the past." Pitt earned their way to the field on Sunday, just like the Pats.

This is the biggest game of the season. "So, hopefully we can have a good week here and be at our best Sunday night," BB said. "That's our goal, and that's what we're going to work toward. We know we have a lot to do, a lot to prepare for. I think the game earlier in the season is not really that relevant. I mean, it is, but it really isn't. There's a lot of water under the bridge since then. What the Steelers have done in the last two-and-a-half months is really what we're probably going to see Sunday night, and that's what we've got to be ready for. So, that's where we're at." I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it.

3. Brady!- Brady sucked last week. "We try to find out what the other team is having a hard time stopping. Some weeks it's more passing, some weeks it's more rushing and some weeks it's more the receivers and some weeks it's more the tight ends or the running backs," Brady said. "It's all a little bit different. Over the course of the whole season, you've got to use different game plans and so forth, different execution, things that you talk about. I don't think the fundamentals of football change necessarily: the blocking, the tackling, the throwing, the catching, all of those things that we work on through training camp.

"But the schemes change, and you try to put your team in the best position to win. As a quarterback, you're always trying to direct the blocking assignments and trying to just set protections and get us in a good place. I think that's what we've always tried to do here, and that has evolved over time. But, you know, you'd like to go out there and if we have 70 plays, you'd like to run 70 good plays. That's what the goal is for me every week." That is not going to be the case this week.

He looked pissed off and focused in his presser this week. "We have to play our best game of the year. I think that's what it comes down to," Brady said. "We've got to all do whatever it takes to be at our best for those three hours on Sunday night. They put a lot of pressure on you in a lot of areas. They're tough to prepare for. We're going to have to just rise to the occasion." He knows that the next three weeks can place him in a stratosphere that no one can touch.

No QB has ever been to seven Super Bowls, and no QB has ever won five Super Bowls. Bradshaw and Montana both won four Super Bowls. Elway got himself to five Super Bowls. Once the Pats win this game Brady will have taken the Patriots to seven Super Bowls. This game will give him the opportunity to win his unprecedented Fifth Super Bowl.

This would make him the GOAT, not by only in opinion but in by absolute fact. "I don't think so," Brady said when asked if this week was distracting. "I think there's always something going on. I think it's just important for us to focus on what our job is, and that's to go out and play well. Our job is to show up and try to do a great job when we get the chance, and that's the way it's been all year for us." This week is going to be the difference between defeat and history.

The good news is that the Pats should win this game. "At home? You know, it's home," Edelman said. "So the louder they get, the more fired up you get. You live off the crowd. So, all the people out there in Foxboro, get ready! We need you. We need you." They are the less flawed team, they are at home, and Brady had a much better season than Big Ben.

Plus, the coaching advantage has shown to be too lopsided for Pitt the past decade or so. Brady was 19 of 26 for 222-yard and 2 TDs when last they played. However, the Pitt defense was clearly better against KC. And in a very Patriots like fashion, the  Pitt D got better all season long and is now playing their best football.

In the next few weeks we could see Brady put his greatness into perspective. He is already the best playoff QB ever. He is the leader in Playoff wins with 23 (and should get his 24th tomorrow). He is the all-time leader in Playoff TDs with 50, and all-time in passing yards with 8,244. Tomorrow will be his 11th AFC Champ game, which is also an NFL record.

What is important about this game is that Brady has played 11 times against the Steelers (including Playoffs), and he has thrown 26 TDs and only 3 INTs in those games. "We've just played a lot of good games against them, and they've played some good games against us, too," Brady said. "It's a tough defense. They've got a lot of good players on their side of the ball, at all levels of the defense." The Pats are 9 and 2 in those games.

4. East-West Shrine Game- Here is the East-West Shrine game Roster ready to take notes during the game:


#9 Nick Mullens- QB Southern Miss-

#10 Cooper Rush- QB Central Michigan- 

#16 Alek Torgersen- QB Pennsylvania- 

#14 Marcus Cox- RB Applachian State-

#4 I'Tavius Mathers- RB Middle Tennessee- 

#2 De'Veon Smith- RB Michigan-

#2 Quincy Adeboyejo- WR Mississippi-

#12 Gehrig Dieter- WR Alabama-

#8 Tony Stevens- WR Auburn-

#7 Kermit Whitfield- WR Florida State- 

#88 DeAngelo Yancey- WR Purdue- 

#89 Antony Auclair, Laval (TE)-

#81 Colin Jeter (TE), LSU- 

#83 Scott Orndoff (TE), Pittsburgh- 

#85 Eric Saubert (TE), Drake-

#68 Lucas Crowley- 6-3, 293, (C), UNC-

#58 William Holden- 6-7, 312 (OT), Vanderbilt-

#78 Dieugot Joseph (OT), Florida International- 

#67 Kyle Kalis- 6-3, 305, (G), Michigan-

#72 Alex Kozan- 6-3, 310, (G), Auburn-

#77 Erik Magnuson (OT), Michigan-

#72 Jonathan McLaughlin- 6-5, 300 (OT), Virginia Tech-

#57 Adam Pankey- 6-3 316 (G), West Virginia-

#66 Joey Scelfo- 6-1, 300 (C), N.C. State-

#70 Dan Skipper- 6-10 (OT), Arkansas-

#60 Cameron Tom-  6-4, 290 (C), Southern Miss- 



#99 Hunter Dimick (DE), Utah- 

#91 Darius English (DE), South Carolina- 

#95 Jerimiah Ledbetter (DE), Arkansas- 

#90 Avery Moss (DE), Youngstown State- 

#97 Josh Augusta (DT), Missouri-

#96 Ralph Green (DT), Indiana-

# Stevie Tu'ikolovatu (DT), USC- 

#55 Josh Tupou (DT), Colorado- 

#99 Deatrich Wise, Jr. (DE), Arkansas- 

# Treyvon Hester (DT), Toledo (injured)- 

#75 B.J. Singleton (DT), Houston (injured) - 

#92 Jimmie Gilbert (OLB), Colorado- 

#33 Kevin Davis (ILB), Colorado State- 

#41 Paul Magloire (OLB), Arizona- 

#54 Calvin Munson (OLB), San Diego State- 

#43 Hardy Nickerson, Jr. (ILB), Illinois- 

#31 Kenneth Olugbode (ILB), Colorado- 

Steven Taylor (OLB), Houston (injured- 

#14 Treston DeCoud (CB), Oregon State- 

#25 Tyquwan Glass (CB), Fresno State- 

#6 Ashton Lampkin (CB), Oklahoma State- 

#12 Fabian Moreau (CB), UCLA- 

#15 Aarion Penton (CB), Missouri- 

#3 Randall Goforth (S), UCLA- 

#18 Jadar Johnson (S), Clemson-

#32 Leon McQuay III (S), USC-

#8 Weston Steelhammer (S), Air Force- 

# Jordan Sterns (S), Oklahoma State- 

#26 Orion Stewart (S), Baylor- 

#7 Tedric Thompson (S), Colorado- 

East Defense:

#97 DeAngelo Brown (DT), Louisville- 

#92 Jason Carr (DT), West Georgia- 

#94 Bryan Cox (DE), Florida- 

#98 Matthew Godin (DT), Michigan- 

#99 Trey Hendrickson (DE), Florida Atlantic- 

#91 Joey Ivie (DT), Florida- 

# Ejuan Price (DE), Pittsburgh- 

#93 Karter Schult (DE), Northern Iowa-

#42 Richie Brown (ILB, Mississippi State- 

#45 Austin Calitro (ILB), Villanova- 

#51 Javancy Jones (OLB), Jackson State- 

#6 Andrew King (ILB), Army- 

# Marquel Lee (ILB), Wake Forest- 

#47 James Onwualu (OLB), Notre Dame- 

#1 Tony Bridges (CB), Ole Miss- 

#22 Nate Hairston (CB), Temple- 

#1 Lano Hill (S), Michigan- 

#5 Jalen Myrick (CB), Minnesota- 

#1 Anthony Fish Smithson (S), Kansas- 

#31 Channing Stribling (CB), Michigan- 

#29 Jack Tocho (CB), North Carolina State-

#24 Brad Watson (CB), Wake Forest-

#6 Jamal Carter (S), Miami- 

#23 Dymonte Thomas (S), Michigan- 

#26  Damarius Travis (S), Minnesota- 

#27 Xavier Woods (S), Louisiana Tech- 

West offense:

#10 Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati- 

#12 Wes Lunt, Illinois- 

#12 Zach Terrell, Western Michigan- 

#1 Elijah McGuire- RB, Louisiana-Lafayette- 

#23 Dare Ogunbowale- RB, Wisconsin- 

#28 Joe Williams- RB, Utah- 

#81 Billy Brown- WR, 6-4, 245, Shepherd- 

#80 Austin Carr- WR, Northwestern- 

#5 Trey Griffey- WR,  Arizona- 

#4 Karel Hamilton- WR,  Samford- 

#19 Gabe Marks- WR,  Washington State-  

#9 Jalen Robinette- WR,  Air Force- 

#47 Blake Jarwin (TE), Oklahoma State-

#48 Taylor McNamara (TE), USC- 

#82 Michael Roberts (TE), Toledo-

#62 Gavin Andrews (C), Oregon State- 

#76 Erik Austell (OT), Charleston Southern- 

#65 Avery Gennesy (OT), Texas A&M- 

# Evan Goodman (OT), Arizona State- 

#67 Geoff Gray, (G), Manitoba- 

#61 Tobijah Hughley (C), Louisville- 

#66 Zach Johnson (G), North Dakota State- 

#74 Storm Norton (OT), Toledo- 

#73 Chase Roullier (C), Wyoming- 

#77 Victor Salako (OT), Oklahoma State- 

#52 Sam Tevi (OT), Utah- 

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