2016 Season Blog.

Pats Vs. Pitt.

1st Quarter.


Greetings Pats Fans,

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The Ugliest Dance Ever.


The Pats D came out and completely out physicalled the Steeler on their first drive. It turned into an ugly game. "They were pretty good," Le'Veon Bell said. "They play a lot of man-to-man. [Collins] is a very good player. It was me and him head-to-head a lot. They are a good group. They are well coached. They played well up front. They don't get out of their gaps. A really sound football team, and that's why they are good." They tried to establish the run on the first series, and the Pats shut them down.

The Pats came out on their first series looking to establish the passing game. They showed right from the start that it was going to be a game of mistakes, miscues, and misinterpretations of the rules. All the game long the Pats made small mistakes, at the worst possible time.

Meanwhile, the Steelers clearly set their defense up to stop the pass, and take the ball out of Brady's hands. "On the other side, we didn't come off blocks and make enough tackles in the run game," coach Tomlin said. "The back fell forward. We realize by the structure of how we call the game, there was going to be a little bit of that. But, not enough of guys coming off of blocks and making tackles. And we gave up two big chunks to Gronk there in the second half that I thought changed the complexion of that half of play. And really, in a nutshell, the game among other things, kind of came down to those things I outlined, things that I outlined to the group prior to us stepping into the stadium, because you knew the margin for error was going to be minimal." They knew they had to make every tackle, because they were backing off in pass defense all game.

The Pats lined up to throw as they wanted to go full speed and score as any points as they could, because they knew Pitt couldn't drop 30 on them.  "And like I just told you, we acknowledge schematically that we were willing to bleed a little bit in the run game in an effort to minimize big plays [in the passing game]" Tomlin said. "In doing so, we would have to come off blocks and make tackles. Not enough of that for us to be successful." So the Steelers defensive philosophy of stopping the pass first and foremost was correct, and mostly successful.

They could not let Brady go up and down the field and have the slightest chance to win. "I'm going to be real specific about why we came up short, because we were real specific in terms of what needed to happen prior to the game," Tomlin said. "We realized that our margin for error was minimal. We left some red-zone possessions out there." The Pats were not ready for it.

On the first play of the first series the offense came out firing, and the Steelers' defense was ready for it, and dropped. Brady hit Hogan underneath the DBs. There were three DBs behind him, not even pretending they were trying to stop the run. Hogan caught the ball, turned and ran. He got hit to one knee by Jarvis Jones. Hogan was clearly knocked down to one knee with the ball in his hands, which means the play is dead.

Then Jarvis ripped the ball out. "That's on me," Hogan said. "I have to understand that there is going to be people coming from behind looking to strip. I was a little careless with it and I had to move on after that, but obviously, I'll be working on ball security drills throughout the week." He never saw Jarvis charging him from behind.

The refs blew it. "We went out and scrambled on the one," Brady said. "I got one in the 2nd half. It was decent. I wish our execution [wasn't so ugly]. When it was good, we made a lot of good plays. I think there were self-inflicted wounds that really hurt us." That was the moment I knew this game was going to be a long and ugly affair.

On the next series Pitt was on a short field, but the Pats D was good. The Patriots clearly had the opposite strategy of the Steelers, and were loading to stop the run, and make Landry beat them. Strategically, both teams did what they wanted to do defensively. They wanted to make the offense play left handed. The Pats D was very effective taking away the run, from maybe the best running team in the NFL.

The Steelers D was far more successful taking Brady out of the game than I thought they could. "First of all, this is a tough place to play," BB said. "I have a lot of respect for the Steelers and Coach Tomlin. That entire football team is tough. They compete very hard. They have a lot of good players. They're fast. I have to give our players a lot of credit. They hung in there and battled for four quarters. It certainly wasn't easy." The made the best passing game in the NFL play left handed.

Because of the faux turnover by the refs, the Steelers got the ball at the Pats 45. The Pats D came up and played more aggressively schematically right at the LOS. They went into a Base 4-3 right off the bat, with my guy Eric Rowe (I told you he could play) in the box. He got his first start as a Patriot. They were clearly telling Landry he was not going to run the ball.

The Steelers have the best one two punch at RB in the NFL. Plus, the Pats defense has not always been the best against the run. "Fortunately we made a few more plays than Pittsburgh did today," BB said. "Our red area defense kept them off the board when they had a couple situations where they had good field position." Granted, so far this season they have been terrific against the run. They have done a remarkable job stopping the run in the Base Nickel.

It only took them a couple of quick shots against the Pats aggressive run defense to get in the Redzone. "Fortunately we made a few more plays than Pittsburgh did today," BB said. "Our red area defense kept them off the board when they had a couple situations where they had good field position." They ran the ball a couple of times in the Redzone for a couple of yards each.

Then on 3rd and 6 from the 16, Landry dropped back to throw. Butler lined up in press on Antonio Brown at the LOS. "He's one of the best, if not the best [Wideout in the whole world]," Butler said. "He's one or two. He has no flaws." He ran down the sideline stride for stride with the best Wideout in the whole world.

Brown got an outside release and Butler paralleled him with his back to the QB. "We do some great things," Butler said. "Of course we do things that we want to do better. We are just going out there and trying to be the best team that we can be. It's not going to be perfect, we aren't going to stop everything, and stats only take you so far. It's about winning the game." Brown curled inside a little as he ran over the goal line.

Butler curled inside mirroring Brown, and kept his body turned inside in front of Brown. "Most all of those plays really revolve around team defense," BB said. "Malcolm made a good play on the interception and kind of used his body to box out Brown and make the play. But it's team defense. You've got to stop the run, you've got to make the quarterback uncomfortable, you've got to get on the receivers whether it's man or zone. We had our moments. But yeah, certainly in the end the red area was a huge difference in the game. In a close game those points amount to a lot. Again, team defense." Landry threw the ball into the Endzone.

Butler spotted the ball. He leaped up and took it. "Obviously Malcom Butler's interception was a big play for us at the start of the game to keep them from getting ahead," BB said. "Then we were able to take the lead and play from ahead. That was good. It was a good team win. It's tough to play here. It's a tough place to win. We'll take it. The Steelers are a good football team. I have a lot of respect for that organization and for Mike [Tomlin], the players, and the job they do. They're tough." Then he did the ugliest dance ever. Malcolm, buddy, never do that in public again.

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