The doom and gloom funeral marches that were blaring from many televisions, computers, cell phones, tablets and any other instruments of communication on the days prior to the Steelers/Patriots game ended up sounding like disco music coming from Studio 54 when all was said and done.
The Steelers smacked around the New England Patriots, the final score being 17-10, Dec. 16. All of the hemming and hawing about the invincibility and invulnerability of the great Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was, at least for the moment, sidelined. I predicted the Steelers were going to defeat New England by 14 points and the Black and Gold only won by 7, bah humbug. The rumors were floating around about former Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy being the perfect person to save a sinking Steelers season, but Tomlin emphatically stated that it wasn’t a hindrance in the locker room.
I really believe that Tomlin was not trippin’ when it came to the naysayers. “I have been doing this (coaching) for years,” he said. “Jaylen Samuels and guys like that they were in elementary school when I started doing this, so such is life.”
With that attitude coming from his head coach, it’s not difficult that Samuels was not consumed by nervousness by starting in the game of the season for his team. As far as coaching goes, Tomlin definitely outcoached the “Great Belicheat.” For most of the game, the Steelers held Steelers killer, Rob Gronkowski, in check. Except for a couple of lapses, Pittsburgh held “Gronk” to 2 catches for 21 yards. Generally, Gronkowski was the one that had a handful of “kryptonite,” as soon as the Steelers would exit the phone booth, cape flying in the wind as they would attempt to come up with a win. As far the Steelers stopping Gronkowski, Mike Tomlin said that “we mixed a variety of people on him and concepts on him, but he had his moments. There was a possession in the red zone before Joe’s (Haden) interception that he converted, and I think we had two people assigned to him. He’s a special guy but so is 12 (Tom Brady), and they are a special tandem.”
One of the biggest positive factors in the beginning of the game for the Steelers was time of possession and the player that made that possible was the Steelers’ 2018 5th-round draft pick, Samuels, who has been filling in for James Conner, who’s out with a sprained left ankle. Let’s just say that Samuels’ debut a few weeks ago against the Raiders was maybe a tad less stellar than his effort against the Patriots. Against the Patriots, Samuels had 19 carries for 142 yards which happened to be a hefty 7.5 yards a carry.
Now regarding the so-called “atrocious” Steelers defense, the Patriots scored a “whopping” 10 points on the Steelers defense but 7 of those points were scored via a 63-yard TD pass from Tom Brady to Chris Hogan in the first quarter. The defense of the Black and Gold only surrendered 3 points for the remainder of the game. Where were all of Bill Belichick’s “Tomlin beating” schemes on Sunday? Mike McCarthy, Joe McCarthy or maybe even Vince Lombardi could not have been more schematically ready for the boys from “bean town,” both offensively and defensively. The Steelers did not play passively on defense and offensively they attacked the Patriots from the perimeter and inside. Ben Roethlisberger did not have 400 yards passing but he was 22 for 34 for 235 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 picks. That was enough for the Steelers’ “piranha-like” defense to devour the Patriots.
Next up are the New Orleans Saints. If Pittsburgh repeats last Sunday’s performance, Saints quarterback Drew Brees and his squad will have a genuine fight on their hands.
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