NEPD Staff Writer: Doug Kyed
“To be the best, you have to beat the best.”
After beating the Patriots 25-17, I think it’s pretty fair to say the Steelers are the best team in the AFC. The Steelers controlled the clock and didn’t allow the Patriots to get anything going on offense all game.
-The first thing that needs to be brought up is the non-challenge on that Gronkowski non-TD. The Patriots ate a minute and a half off the clcok by not challenging that play. On the replay it was pretty clear that Gronkowski had possession inside the end zone. Obviously hindsight is 20/20 and no one could have known that Faulk wouldn’t get in the next play, but even if he had, they had already wasted 40 seconds before they even ran the pass to Faulk when they needed all the time they could get.
-Speaking of Faulk, what are the Patriots doing playing Faulk so much in his first game back? Faulk is the Patriots’ best blocking RB, but that didn’t seem to do a lot of good, did it? The Patriots drafted two running backs in the first three rounds, one of whom was inactive and the other didn’t see a single snap against Pittsburgh despite being active. Where was Ridley? Where was Green-Ellis for that matter. This team isn’t going to win with only twelve carries.
-Coming out of the first half, the Patriots were only down seven and had a chance to really turn the game around. They could have started controlling the time of possession, ran the no huddle, run the ball down the Steelers’ throats. Instead, all they could muster was a three and out.
-I know this is going to sound like blasphemy, but Tom Brady hasn’t looked like the same player he was in the first two weeks of the season lately. Granted, you’re not going to throw for 400-500 yards every game, but this offense hasn’t seemed to be clicking as much since the loss to the Bills.
-Obviously the offense isn’t the biggest concern on this New England team. The Pats once again did a nice job against the run only allowing 98 yards on 23 carries, but the pass defense was a completely different story.
-It seemed like the Pats were so concerned with not letting Mike Wallace get deep that they were allowing everyone else to get open in the middle of the field. Cutting Leigh Bodden looked perplexing at the time and now it looks even worse. Antwaun Molden was bad and got benched, Phillip Adams looked bad and Molden came back in. James Ihedigbo looked bad, Sergio Brown looked bad and Ihedigbo came back in.
-None of the Pats linebackers specialize in pass coverage as well. Spikes excels against the run, Ninkovich excels in pass rush, Mayo is better utilized elsewhere and Guyton can’t do anything right.
-The Steelers converted 10-16 on third downs. When the defense can’t get off the field, the offense won’t be able to bail them out.
-I’m not blowing up the team and I’m not blowing up the season, but with this defense the Patriots won’t be able to beat the better teams in the league. Unfortunately you can no longer look forward to “when Dowling comes back…” Dowling isn’t coming back. The Patriots are stuck with who they have and unless it’s them not knowing the system well enough, they’re just not very good. Today the Patriots defense didn’t allow the Patriots offense to bail them out. It wasn’t turnovers that killed the Patriots, it wasn’t big plays, it wasn’t penalties, it was time of possession.