Things for Sunday: Part II.
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Of The Roses.
3. Do or Definitely Die.- The loss last week doesn't matter if the
Pats win tonight. The last quarter of the season is about home field in
the Champ Game. The Pats and Pitt are actually very similar teams. More
offense than defense, except when the Pats had their run as the best
defense in the NFL. But injuries have taken care of that.
While injuries have also decimated the Pats offense, the Pitt
offense has been cruising without a blemish on their pretty faces.
"They are really good, they've got great continuity. Tom Brady's Tom
Brady. You can talk all day about that," Tomlin said. "What are
we going to do at the line of scrimmage prior to the ball snapping? What
are we going to do to improve our overall readiness and detail in our
play? I think therein lies the discussion. You can waste a lot of man
hours and not getting a lot accomplished worried about what he's going to
do prior to the snap." But the Gronk is back and your gonna be in
Both teams know this will not be a game, this is an all out war for
AFC supremacy. "Man, I love it." Tomlin said. "It's good to
be in big games. It's better to be in big games than ones nobody's
watching. We better be appreciative of this spot and not resistant in any
way, but embrace it. This is what we've been fighting for since March, to
be in these types of games against these types of people. Why would you
fight that? It's an awesome thing." This isn't just a fight.
This is more War of the Roses. "This is the game everyone's
been waiting to see, [and] we're going to show up and fight," Mike
Mitchell said. "Obviously it's got a lot of history to it, I've been
thinking about this game since we lost it last year. Very much look
forward to playing them. Obviously, Tom Brady is the GOAT. I tip my hat to
him. He is the GOAT. And for us to be the Champ we have to beat the
Champ." There will be no quarter asked, and none given.
These teams while they don't really like each other, they usually do
respect each other. "I mean, I think at this point in the year, it's
not like you're going to go reinvent your whole defense in Week 15.
They're ranked pretty high. They do a lot of things well. I'm sure they're
going to want to continue to do those things well." Brady said.
"They rush good. They're tight in coverage. They mix their schemes
in: zone and man and blitzes. And they do it on all three downs. They
don't make it easy on you. Now for us, it's just being on alert. We're
going to try to go out and play the way we play, too, and that's what
makes for a good game. They've had a lot of good teams over the years.
These are always pretty big matchups and this is a big one for both of
us." The loss last week was irrelevant, because the winner this week
will get all the marbles.
The team that wins this game controls it's own destiny. "I'm
going to embrace the elephant in the room. [The game is] going to be
fireworks. And it's probably going to be Part 1. That's going to be a big
game," Tomlin said. "But probably, if we're both doing what
we're supposed to, the second one is really going to be a big game. Then
what happens in the first is going to set up the second one, which is
[also] going to determine the location of the second one." The loser
will have to stave off Jacksonville. And most likely play this game again,
in the AFC Champ Game, on the road. Which is not a good way to get to the
4. Run Forest Run- One thing I now for sure, the Pats are
gonna run in this game. They are going to pound the Steeler defense with
the run game early and often, and as long as it takes for the win. They
lost their big run stuffing ILB Shazier, and have not been able to
overcome the tragic loss.
run defense fell apart last week. "We better be better
than we were on Sunday night. That just goes without saying," Tomlin
said. "We can’t give up big plays, and some of the things we did in
that game, and expect to beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
It’s just not happening." The O-line and run game will be paramount
to a Pats victory, again.
With Brady fighting injuries and out of sorts, they not only need
yards on the ground, but also to soften up the D-line with a pounding run
game. Getting the D-line moving backwards instead of forwards is always
good for an offense.
Whether the Pitt-D can stop the Pats run will be the key to the game
for them. "We’re excited about being in the kitchen, if you will.
It’s good to be in the kitchen, the kitchen’s in Pittsburgh, P-A, this
week in the National Football League, and at Heinz Field. And that’s
where you want to be in the middle of December," Tomlin said.
"We don’t take it for granted. As competitors we’re excited about
it. But as professionals we know that preparation is going to be
required." No one prepares better than the Pats.
The Pats have to stop the Pitt passing game, by bending but not
breaking, and they have to be more prepared than Pitt. "[We've] turn
the page and move on to Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is schematically quite a
bit different than Miami, so we can't dwell on the Miami game," BB
said. "Pittsburgh is a great team. They have their way of doing
things and their schemes that they run and we'll have to start preparing
for those, but there could be, as always, some carryover if you show them
that you're vulnerable to a certain type of play. Or problem that if you
don't get that fixed you'll see again the following week." This is a
much better offense than the one they faced last week.
And let's be clear, Pitt has earned their way to AFC dominance this
year, just like the Pats. "I'd say kind of the more I've watched the
Steelers this week, the more impressed I am. The way they play, they're
really well-coached, they've had so many end-of-the-game, end-of-the-half
situations that they're very productive and efficient with, and Coach
Tomlin does a great job with the clock management, with the play
selection. Just doing the right plays in the right situations and
executing them well," BB said. "They've played well on defense,
on offense and in the kicking game, made a lot of critical plays. They do
a really good job in that area, and that's translated into a number of
wins for them. So, along with all the other things that they do well,
that's pretty impressive, too. You need to play a good 60-minute, complete
football game, all three phases, to be competitive with these guys.
They're good at everything." But their Achilles heel is their run
Brady's injury has been the primary concern of this team, and it
came to a head last week without Gronk. " No, just feeling
better," Brady said. "So, it's a short week, so I just try to
get out there and practice. Like I said, I take it week-to-week. And I
feel really good this week. So I'm very happy about that." The more
Brady hands the ball off the better he will feel after the game.
Because they are going to be coming for Brady with bad intensions.
"He's a good player, but he's having a great year," BB said
about Heyward. "That whole front's playing very well. Heyward has
done a great job, Tuitt, Hargrave [as well]. All three of those guys are
strong, they're physical, they're hard to block, they do a good job of
rushing the passer, collapsing the pocket. They're strong in the running
game, keep the linebackers free. The defensive ends do a good job, or
outside linebackers, whatever you want to call them: Dupree and Watt and
Harrison. So across the front, that's a strong, tough group. But,
Heyward's having a great year, no question." They have to pound those
OLBs to slow them down, and help Brady win.
Brady knows this defense as
well as any opponent Pitt has faced. "I mean, I think they definitely
do that. Within their zones, there's always man elements," Brady
said. "I mean, they've had the same defense for a long time. Whatever
they decide to do, we'll be prepared for. I mean, we prepare for
everything. We'll go out there and cut it loose on Sunday." Brady
will need the Bye as much as the Home Field to take the Pats back to the
A Citizen! Not a Subject!
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I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
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