I have gone back through the Steelers game against the New England Patriots now a few times and jotted down some more observations that I did not include in the post game recap. I do this every week as it is impossible to see everything just one or two times through a game. Many will judge off of a stat sheet and it is what sets this site apart from the rest as we actually watch the games more than just one time.
Here we go.
The Patriots were so protective against the long ball early on that is opened up the middle of the field for Heath Miller and Ben Roethlisberger took it. The Steelers only had a few explosive plays of 20 yards or more on the day because of this, but it did not matter.
The Steelers did to the Patriots what most teams try to do to then and that is spread it out.
The offensive line has a lot of continuity now since Max Starks has returned. The 5 sacks allowed Sunday is a deceiving number, considering 2 looked like they freely allowed on the last drive. Roethlisberger looked like he stepped into another one. Run blocking was adequate and I am sure it will flush out in the offensive line breakdown this week.
Emmanuel Sanders had another two great blocks by my count out on the edge and you can see why he started for Hines Ward.
Roethlisberger would have had an even better day had he gotten a few of his throws up. I think on maybe 3 of them, the receiver was wide open.
Mewelde Moore always makes a play or two a game when he is in there.
The 3 and out forced by the defense after the offense marched down for an opening drive touchdown was pretty big and set the tone for the day.
The Steelers only ran 5 times on their first two long drives and that had the Patriots defense on their heels the rest of the game.
The defensive pass interference call on William Gay might have been deserved, but it was very, very late. Make the call if you see it.
The man across coverage was a thing of beauty along with press coverage. They mixed in Ryan Mundy and rookie Cortez Allen down in the slot and both got their share of covering tight end Rob Gronkowski. Ike Taylor got a good share of coverage on Wes Welker as well. The Steelers played more man than we have seen in a long, long time.
Roethlisberger saw Gary Guyton on the interception, but still forced the ball in there I think. Had he gotten rid of it a half a second quicker, he likely would have been fine. That interception really let the Patriots back in it by giving them a short field. Hard to knock Keenan Lewis on the touchdown as that route was tough to defend and Tom Brady put that ball where only Deion Branch could catch it.
The defense was getting pressure with 3 and 4 pass rushers and only blitzed on 13 pass plays by my count. The pressure had Brady on the move a few times and out of the pocket.
I talked about YAC before the game quite a bit and Wes Welker was held to a total of 3 yards after the catch on his 6 catches. 91 yards of YAC on the day in total by my count on 24 receptions. Not a bad average in total and 38 of it came on 2 catches by Gronkowski.
I do not understand why Brady did not try to go no huddle more and catch the Steelers early on in their base defense. It was the best chance at a good mismatch, but I suppose the crowd noise may have had something to do with it.
Despite playing in his first game, running back Kevin Faulk was a huge non factor. Troy Polamalu had duties on him out in coverage and put him on the ground face first inside 5 yards a few times. It was hilarious to watch.
Ocho who? Oh how he has fallen off the map. The Patriots depth at wide receiver is horrible. They can not throw the deep ball either when Welker is taken away. If they were to lose Welker or Gronkowski for an extended period of time, they are done.
I told everyone that the Patriots pass defense was as bad as the stats said they were last week. Not just because they had big leads. Being down a few more defensive backs yesterday did not help the cause.
Isaac Redman had a great block out on the edge on a bubble screen. He also continues to eat into the carries of Rashard Mendenhall. Roethlisberger continues to use his backs nicely as 8 balls went their way. Redman tried to run with one before catching it and that needs to be cleaned up.
Antonio Brown still is missing a few check downs, but he is fun to watch doing it. I do not think he is where Roethlisberger expects him to be on a few plays. 9 catches were big though and his first receiving touchdown as well.
Mike Wallace will gladly run away from defenders underneath if you play off of him. He is a defensive coordinators nightmare as to how to defend him.
Of all the young kids to play yesterday, Stevenson Sylvester looked a little unsure of himself a few times. Hard to judge his play as he was only in on about 10 or 11 plays.
Casey Hampton did not play many snaps, but made a great play on the Patriots opening drive.
Larry Foote really had a good game and never seemed to be out of place.
Chris Kemoeatu and Ryan Clark can expect fines this week. I bet there are more than just those two as well. Clark did have a few legal hits down near the goal-line. He led the team in tackles with 8.
The offense has to finish drives better against teams like the Patriots. That would have been a key stat had Brady come back and won that game.
Amazing that Daniel Sepulveda only had to punt once on the afternoon. That is called possessing the football.
LaMarr Woodley is in beast mode right now and hopefully the hamstring injury does not keep him down. Chris Carter played well when he got into the game and lined up on both sides. He really has a big motor and even tossed Gronkowski aside on a run and made the tackle. He still needs to get a bit stronger and work on an inside move in pass rushing.
Brett Keisel and those long arms contributed again. Keisel really looks fresh right now despite all the snaps he is playing. Knocked down one pass and forced the fumble at the end.
Ziggy Hood and Lawrence Timmons quietly had solid days.
Polamalu knew exactly what he was doing when he punched that ball towards the Patriots endzone. He did not have a shot of recovering it, but knew it would eat precious seconds and he would give other defensive players a chance to recover it. Smart, heads up football.