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The Road Again.
5. Offensive Explosion-
I don't think Big Ben ever really recovered from his knee injury from
October. He did not move very well in the pocket against KC. He was good
at moving in short little areas, like a crafty veteran, to give his guys
times. But his legs looked like he had some sore old bones. Plus, he was
in a walking cast last week as well.
But he can still throw the ball all over the field, and squeeze into
smaller holes on the goal line. "As far in the red area, once you get
down into that part of the field, they do a great job and Coach Haley does
a great job of putting those guys in different positions. There's some
misdirection plays, there's some catch and run plays, there's some deep
balls that they try to throw into the end zone and take advantage of their
speed downfield, and their playmaking ability downfield," Patricia
said. "Plus Ben, his ability to get the ball downfield. One of the
things that happens a lot in the red area that you always have to defend
are kind of those plays that take a little bit longer or get extended. For
the most part in the red area it's kind of some timing plays down in
there, but if those plays can get extended or prolonged, that's when it
becomes really difficult and I think Roethlisberger right now is very
mobile, very healthy. [Ben's] a guy that showed even again last night that
just slight bit of movement or a slight bit of ability to maybe evade the
rush or stand in there just a little bit longer gives his guys enough time
to get open in those situations and certainly the red area is a big part
of that." What makes Ben special now, is not his freakish athleticism
for a QB his size, but his experience and craftiness in the pocket.
This is going to be one of those long ugly
games where the Pats D focuses on shutting down Ben and Brown, and Bell
scares the crap out of us all game long. "I think the thing other
than along with kind of what I said earlier, certainly if there's space or
if there's a gap in the defense or if there's an edge in the defense, he's
quick to take advantage of that. So he's going to be able to get into that
open space pretty quickly," Patricia said. "I don't think you
want to sit there and guess. I don't think you really want to sit there
and try to play that game with them. I think for us it's always going to
go back to the same thing in the run game of being able to play with good
technique. And really trying to do a good job at the line of scrimmage of
playing our guys. And defeating blocks, and doing the things we do, and
tackling and making sure we do a great job of tackling and wrapping up. It
should be a full team complement to stopping the run game and that's what
we're going to need." Only they will be stopping the pass first.
They have to hit Big Ben early and often to get him off his game,
his legs are not as sound as when last we played him. "Pittsburgh's
offense [is a] very dangerous, very explosive offense. This will be
different for us than obviously the first time with Ben being back. They
run a very consistent offense," Patricia said. "Let me put it
that way, with Todd Haley. He does a great job of scheming things up and
getting the ball to his go-to players. They have very explosive guys at
all the skill positions. The running back, Le'Veon Bell, is obviously a
very dangerous player. A guy that really does a great job in the run game
and the pass game. A guy that's a great space player. [A guy whose] really
very dynamic in his ability to make people miss in open space from a
tackling standpoint. [A] very patient runner. It's kind of a different
style of running game where he kind of gets to the line of scrimmage and
really just finds that hole or that seam and he has this incredible burst
to be able to get through." Bell is at his best when he can
peek-a-boo behind his blockers as he bobs and weaves forward like a boxer,
and then explodes forward when he finally finds a lane.
Their O-line dominates by grabbing the front-7 guys shirt, and
consistently moving them backwards 2-3 and even 5 to 7 yards and forming a
pocket downfield for Brown to read and dance behind. It really is quit
amazing. Their three interior O-linemen, Pouncey, DeCastro, and Foster,
are best trio I have seen in decades at pushing and sustaining blocks in
the run game. Bell loves to hide behind Pouncey and DeCastro, while he
peeks upfield. And then boo, he is crashing through a crack on the
It really puts a lot of stress on the front-7, because the run plays
can take two or three times longer than any other team in the NFL to
execute. "I think the offensive line [is like totally awesome],"
Patricia [sort-ah] said. "These guys are big and long and strong and
they just cover you up. They really do a great job of getting into their
blocks and making it very difficult for the defensive line to get
off." The Pats cannot let the Pitt O-line win this game for them.
Because they will run Bell all the way down field on five or six
straight runs if you let them. "And then with the speed of Bell and
the burst of Bell through the line of scrimmage it's very difficult to get
a good hit on him," Patrice said. "So it's a lot of arm tackles,
which he can break those and his very strong lower body so he can get
through those and get some positive yardage. You just kind of see these
smooth runs that may hit for like: 5-yards, 7- yards, 9-yards, 12-yards,
then it's like 26 yards." Those are the runs that drive the whole
offense down to the Redzone.
Plus, it gets the LBs and Safeties creeping up to the line.
"They do a great complement of different scheme runs to get him the
ball in different areas of the offense. So it's inside, it's outside, it's
counters coming back. So [it's] kind of a wide variety there,"
Patricia said. "I mean, really just in their run game consistently,
we've seen Williams a couple of times, too. It has just been a dynamic run
game for them and obviously you can see that here in the last couple of
weeks. Which at this time of the year running the ball is critically
important to success in the playoffs. So they're doing a great job of
being consistent with that." And even more troubling is that the run
game then sets up the play action.
They will be
patient and run six or seven straight times, until they
see the Safeties and LB creeping forward a little, and then run that nasty
little play action, where Bell will even stay in to block. "I think
in the passing game when you look at what they're being able to do is push
the ball both vertically and horizontally," Patricia said.
"Antonio Brown is obviously a great wide receiver and a huge threat
to get the ball. Once it's in his hands to make people miss and turn small
plays into big plays. But I think the other receivers, because there is so
much attention that goes to Brown even though he does get open anyways,
those guys really kind of stepped up, [like] Rogers. You're going to see
all those guys kind of in there playing their part and included with that
would be the tight end position. Jesse James had a great game, and does a
great job of finding space. Roethlisberger is just so calm in the pocket
where he can really just wait, and those guys do a good job of reading
coverage or getting off coverage. And the offensive line is doing a great
job of protecting him. So then they just kind of get open, or work
themselves into space, and he's got an incredibly strong arm so he can
just get the ball to them once they kind of uncover." The D-line gets
so caught up in run D that they hesitate for a second on passing downs.
Which gives Big Ben more time in the pocket to try and make the big
play. "Obviously, the deep threat which is a big play possibility,
the catch and run, which you've seen them do here especially in the last
couple weeks with explosive-type plays, and then combine that with the
running game, it really stresses a defense both in the front to make sure
that the run game is handled and then in the deep part of the field,"
Patricia said. "And they're really doing a great job of taking
advantage of, we'll call it, intermediate and horizontal part of the field
where there is a lot of space now and they get the ball to those guys in
space and they'll catch and run and make a lot of big plays. That's a long
answer. Sorry about that." They really are the most balanced offense
we will face this year.
But, our defense has really come together
since they ditched Collins. "They have a lot of good players, very
well-coached," Brady said about the Pats D. "I go against them
every day in practice and they're very competitive, very hard-nosed, good
stopping the run, and have been very competitive against the pass. It's a
very good defense." They will give up the yards, but it is the most
difficult defense to score TDs on.
They lead the NFL by giving up only 6 TDs
on the ground. They were 10th in only giving up 21 TDs in the air. So they
only gave up 27-TDs all season long. Denver gave up 28 Total. Oddly, the
NJG gave up only 25. So the Pats are were the second best team at not
giving up touchdowns, and are by far the best left. Steelers gave up 35 by
the way. Atlanta gave up 46 (and I wrote that before the Atlanta game
started, they are just a better team than Green Bay).
6. Defensive Explosion- Pitt really showed they could hit the QB
against KC. "Like I said, they have a lot of guys that can do
different things. Their down guys are not just run stoppers. Tuitt is a
very active guy, and he's created a lot of pressure on the quarterback
from the spots that he plays," Coach McDaniels said. "They'll
pressure people with pressures, with linebacker blitzes. So guys like
Timmons and Shazier and those types of guys. They all have sacks. They all
have quarterback pressures. And then the edge rushers, the Harrison's and
the Dupree's, those guys. I mean, they're constantly involved in the rush
as well. It's not just one guy. That's the biggest thing. It's the entire
front." Pitt will attack Brady from every angle.
They like to blitz the DBs a lot. "Plus you're going to get
secondary pressures, their nickel back, their safeties are all involved in
the blitz packages, which has kind of been a hallmark of their defense
over many years," McDaniels said. "Those guys are going to get
hits on the quarterback, and you're going to have to pick them up in blitz
pick-up and make sure that you don't give them any easy plays there, too.
So, you can't really focus your attention on one or two guys. That's not
really what this defense is built on." But when they blitz those DBs,
D-linemen and Linebackers wind up outside covering WRs.
So Brady has to see that and exploit it, or they will keep sending
DBs to do him harm. "They're going to come at you in waves. Different
people are going to come on different plays, and you've got to be ready to
handle them all," McDaniels said. "And they're all physical,
athletic and they know exactly how to execute in their system and in their
scheme. They're extremely well-coached. [The DC] coach Butler does a great
job. I know coach Tomlin has always done a great job with them. We have a
ton of respect for them, and like I said before, this is going to be a
great challenge this week." That has been the key to their defense.
Sometimes it happens that team's defenses come together late in the
year. "Most [of their] players are playing at a very high level right
now. Like I said about their whole group, seem to get better as the year
goes on," McDaniels said. "They've always had an element of
those experienced veteran players really helping those younger players
come along, and learn the system, and learn what it means to play the way
they play in their scheme and their system." The Pitt has been an
example of that.
However, Harrison had an absolutely great game last week, and it is
rare fora player to be that
great two weeks in a row. "I think those are two good examples right
there of guys that [are] much different in terms of their age and
experience, but both physical guys, both very difficult to handle in the
running game, set the edge in the running game and they do a good job of
trying to knock people back," McDaniel said about Harrison and
Dupree. "And then [both] can create pressure on the quarterback,
whether it's with speed or power, and they both do it. So they fit into
their scheme nicely. They've always done a great job of integrating young
players into their scheme, because they know very specifically what
they're looking for. I think those two guys are a good example of what
they've had for a long time and how they develop these young guys to play
really well and integrate them into their system and into their
defense." The Pitt D robbed KC of three or four TDs last week.
I don't think that they can play that great two weeks in a row.
"There's a balance to all of this. They're aggressive, but they're
very intelligent in terms of when they take their chances, because they
understand when the time is running out [on the QB in the pocket], and
they'll make some educated decisions on when to take a few risks in the
secondary," McDaniel said. "But, like I said before, they've
given up very, very few big plays in the passing game all season, and so,
to me, that's a testament to how disciplined they are. They're not going
to give up many plays over their head, and even though you might say they
do make some plays on the ball and they are aggressive, you've got to be
careful with how much you're trying to risk in terms of holding onto it
and doing all of those kinds of things, because you've got to deal with
their blitz zones, their different types of pressures inside, and then
just their straight four-man rush." They showed they are good enough
to slow Brady down a little.
But the more he sees the better Brady gets. "You've got to be
smart. You've got to be disciplined. You've got to be patient,"
McDaniel said. "And like I said, this is as disciplined and as
patient of a group on defense, and they're going to play the very same way
this week. They're not going to make many mistakes. They're not going to
give you many opportunities to have easy yards. You're going to have to
earn everything you get. Like I said, it'll be a great challenge." It
sounds like Playoff football.
7. Pats Win-
Pitt just has too many battles to fight to win this game. Some awesome Pats fan
got arrested unleashing a fire alarm on the Steeler this morning, LOL.
That alone could cost them the game. I know if I were a Steeler, I'd be
too jacked to go back to sleep after an alarm went off at 5 or whatever
was in the morning.
Plus, the Steelers got the Flu this week. In a week when the Pats had two
more days to prepare before Pitt got sick. This just looks more and more
like a blowout.
Plus, BB owns Tomlinson playbook like he
wrote it for him. Coaches and teams that just do what they do will be
dissected and owned by game time by BB. The Pats defense is just too tough to
score TDs against, and the Pats offense is going to score TDs against the
Pitt D. That will be the difference in the game.
Rapistburger was averaging 327-yards per
game passing at Home this season while completing 70% of his passes. In
his seven games on the road, he averaged 231-yards per game while
completing 59% of his passes. His QB ratings is 20-points lower on the
road (78 to 98). He had four games where he threw for two or more INTs,
three on the road (and ironically two came again AFC East opponents: Bills
and Miami). He has thrown for three or more TDs with zero INTs in four
games this season, three at Home. He didn't throw a TD last week at KC,
but had an INT. He threw 11 INTS and 10 TDs in 9 games on the Road. That
is as scary a disparity as I have ever seen at Home vs. on the Road.
So in six of the nine road games he played
in this year he was at his worst. Plus, Big Ben has been falling apart
this season. He missed three games with a knee injury. He was in a walking
boot for his ankle last week. He looked like his legs were a mess against
KC, and he had five of his six worse regulars season games on the Road.
Plus, the Pats defense just
kept getting better and better all season long. They dominated a bad
Houston team last week. But more importantly they scrapped off the rust
from the Bye week. Pats win this game in the 2nd Half, like they have been
doing all season.
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