Pittsburgh blew opportunities time and again, they lost Le’Veon Bell in the first quarter, and the defense could not tackle. Brady in contrast made many plays along with his wide receiver Hogan who found himself wide open All day. I found myself screaming at the TV, “Can someone please cover that guy!” The young guys did not make plays and that is it. The final score in FoxBoro or Foxborough, New England 36 Pittsburgh 17.
On the second series of the game, the Steelers defense was able to get pressure on Brady and disrupted play. They also got a sack. That would be the last time they would touch Brady until the game was over. The Steelers played zone because they wanted to eliminate big plays and keep the receivers in front of them. Because they could not tackle, that did not happen. Couple that with a crippling injury on the offensive side of the ball, it turned into a recipe for disaster.
Le’Veon Bell started out like a house of fire, running for 9 yards on his first two carries, then Ben went deep on a 3rd and 1 and the Steelers had to Punt. After holding Pats to a punt, the Steelers would once again use questionable play calling on a third down play that would result in yet another punting situation.
Then, just like that Pittsburgh is down 10-0.
On the ensuing possession, The Steelers would drive the ball down the field and Finally Score a touchdown. Followed by a missed extra point. It was a 4 point game. A bit of poetic justice there.
Pittsburgh’s defense would once again give up big plays and pick up stupid penalties that would result in first downs. Their lack of tackling turned into a common theme that festered into a 17-6 lead for the Patriots.
The Steelers would get the ball back and put a drive together that would turn into a touchdown to Jesse James. But upon further review, he did not get across the line and it turned into 1st and goal. Not having Bell there was a real problem as they ran DeAngelo Williams twice straight up the middle. Williams lost 5 yards in 2 plays. On that third down, Ben panicked and threw an ugly pass that would not have heeded them no more than 2 yards. Pittsburgh would convert a field goal and would be getting the ball back in the second half which is not a terrible position.
New England would have a few moments left in the first half, but could not convert.
In the second half, the Steelers started with a 3 and out, from that point on, the game was over as Pittsburgh’s defense gave up score after score. Not tackling or covering Hogan was a glaring issue. The offense did themselves no favor with dropped passes and poor play calling.
Observation 1. I would like to point out that when the Steelers win, we get to hear how Ben is allowed to call plays and make changes at the line. When they lose, he plays what the coaches call. Interesting how that works for him.
After the game, Coach Mike Tomlin talked about the Steelers not making enough plays. The secondary was not playing tight enough, and they could not tackle. Ben Chimed in and said that he thinks the moment was too big for the young guys. I dare say, 2 touchdowns in the last 20 something drives a sign of a moment being too big for someone and those someone’s is not just the young guys.
In his defense, Ben made some good throws that were not taken advantage of by players like Hamilton, Coates, and Rogers. Rogers did have a pretty good day, he fumbled once in a very bad spot in the second half. Ben also threw another pick which was a problem. It was a bad pass to Hayward-Bey that he never turned and looked for. The Patriots were more than ready to intercept a ball that looked like it was thrown to them.
Observation 2: The officiating in the game was questionable. Big calls were missed and not called. Some calls were made that were questionable at best. The 15 yard penalty for defenseless receiver was a joke. The Patriots got away with pass interference all game, but nothing was called. Matter in fact, they had no penalties called on them when the game was still in play. Not until it was out of reach was anything called against them. Not to mention, the Steelers defense came up with a fumble, but the referee upon further review decided it was better the Patriots kept the ball.
That was not the reason the Steelers lost, it just did not help matters. The fact is, the better team won today. Brady was better than Ben, and the Steelers defense was not good enough.
The Patriots will Now face off against the Falcons in the SuperBowl in 2 weeks. The Falcons hammered a short-handed Green Bay team today. Neither game was competitive just like most of the playoffs.
Tomlin was hammered during and after the game. Some of the criticism was due. Most of it was not. He did not drop passes, fumble balls, not tackle, make poor play calls early in the game. Those were all done by his players. The Players should not have needed anyone to hold their hands to be ready today. This was a team loss, but you can pin this loss in my opinion on the guys in the lockerroom.
Tomlin did not help himself today by sticking with a zone style offense, but it was clear he did not think his secondary was ready to play man to man all game. After seeing it not play well the few times it happened, I don’t blame him.