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SteelProven 09-23-2005 04:56 PM

Steelers and Patriots
This is from my ESPN insder

In looking back at the AFC Championship game last January, the Patriots' use of personnel on offense really stands out. The Patriots are predominantly a one-back offense, but they ran a lot of two-TE sets against the Steelers. In fact, on 17 offensive snaps they lined OG Russ Hochstein up as a third tight end. This widened the offensive line, causing the Steelers defensive front to stretch, making it more difficult for OLB's Joey Porter and Clark Haggans to blitz off the edge.
? The Patriots' offense attacked Pittsburgh SS Troy Polamalu when it dropped back to pass in last season's AFC Championship game. In fact, both of Deion Branch's long catches -- a 60-yard touchdown and a 45-yard completion that set up a second touchdown -- were plays on which Polamalu lined up deep. Polamalu is more effective as a box defender. Through the use of personnel, formations and motion, the Patriots were able to dictate that Polamalu be a deep-coverage player. Look for them to take the same approach this week.

? New England tends to take downfield shots when it has the ball between the 40-yard lines. The Patriots predominantly line up in a power formation with one back and two tight ends in these situations. In addition, they "max" protect, often keeping eight people in to block. With the offensive line struggling last week and working against a tough Pittsburgh blitz scheme, look for New England to "max" protect any time QB Tom Brady throws deep.

? In breaking down the Steelers offense in last season's AFC Championship game, their inability to control the pace and the tempo of the game with their running game was evident. In the first half of that game, the Steelers ran the ball ten times on first-and-10. They only managed 30 yards on those 10 runs with half of those runs generating three yards or less. However, the Patriots predominantly lined up in a 3-4 front with Tedy Bruschi and Ted Johnson playing the inside linebacker positions. With two new starting inside linebackers, New England may have a hard time slowing the run with the 3-4-front.

? With the Patriots slowing Pittsburgh's ground attack in that game last year, QB Ben Roethlisberger faced more third-and-long situations than he normally faced during the season. In these situations, the Patriots often rushed three and dropped eight. They did this for two reasons. One, it exploited Roethlisberger's unwillingness to stay planted and go through his progressions. Secondly, it forced him to throw the ball into tight windows with precision and timing when he did stay in the pocket, which was not his strength a season ago. A more polished and poised Roethlisberger will be better prepared for these looks this year.

? New England has not established a consistent running game. More importantly, they have showed a willingness to abandon the run early in games choosing to become one-dimensional with the passing game. As precise and efficient Brady is, the Patriots offense is easier to defend when they give up on the run and throw the ball as much as they did last week against the Panthers. Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is one of the best and most aggressive in the league. If New England doesn't keep him off balance with the run, he will blitz on almost every down.

? Most defenses place a greater emphasis on successfully defending New England's passing game, rather than they do on its running game. Defenses have designed their game plans beginning with coverages rather than fronts. Normally, defenses work their coverages off their fronts. This has allowed the Patriots to be successful with their run game, especially with delay draws and stretch plays.

? Brady was uncharacteristically inaccurate last week, but the approach Carolina took played a large role in Brady's inefficiency. The Panthers challenged every aspect of the Patriots passing game, and it began with a high percentage of press coverage on the outside with corners Ken Lucas and Chris Gamble. The Patriots also uncharacteristically struggled in pass protection leading to consistent pressure on Brady. In long-yardage situations, the Panthers employed man coverage concepts whether they played with a single safety or out of a two-deep shell.

? The Patriots' defense predominantly lined up in a 3-4-front last week. This was different from the first week of the season when they went to a 4-3 front at the beginning of the second quarter. Both the Panthers and the Steelers have running games based on two-back sets with the lead blocker concept, so it will be interesting to see how New England's defense lines up on first and second downs.

? One thing to look for in this matchup is the Steelers throwing the ball more on first-and-10. Through the first three quarters of last season's AFC Championship game, Pittsburgh ran the ball 16 times on first-and-10. They threw it only four times excluding the two minute possession at the end of the first half. Those four passes produced three completions to WR Hines Ward good for 19, 28 and 26 yards. With Roethlisberger coming off two efficient performances this season and his confidence at a high level, look for the Steelers to throw the ball more on first-and-10.

Special Teams
Pittsburgh PK Jeff Reed set a new team record with his 21st straight field goal last week against the Texans. Gary Anderson previously held the record with nineteen. It's important that Reed continue to make the most of his opportunities to put points on the board, as this should be a very close game.

The Patriots cover teams did not play up to head coach Bill Belichick's standards last week. New England allowed a 76-yard punt return by Chris Gamble that set up the Panthers touchdown before the end of the first half. The Patriots were undisciplined, as players didn't stay in their lanes and allowed big seams to open all day. Against Steelers PR Antwaan Randle El, the Patriots' cover teams must stay disciplined and help them win the battle of field position.

? New England OC Dan Koppen vs. Pittsburgh NT Casey Hampton
? New England TE Ben Watson vs. Pittsburgh SS Troy Polamalu
? Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger vs. New England FS Eugene Wilson
? New England ROT Tom Ashworth vs. Pittsburgh LDE Aaron Smith
? Pittsburgh WR Hines Ward vs. New England DC Asante Samuel

Scouts' Edge
While New England appears vulnerable and Pittsburgh has been dominant over its first two games, look for the Patriots to win for three reasons.

? The first is they were penalized ten times for 86 yards and they gave up too many big plays on special teams last week. New England is generally a disciplined team so expect it to clean up the mistakes that plagued them last week.

? The second is the Steelers' approach on defense is different than Carolina's approach. Pittsburgh blitzes far more and its defensive linemen have two-gap responsibilities so they don't get upfield as much. The Patriots' offensive line certainly isn't the most talented in the league but it's smart. Look for it to pick up the blitz and do a better job of sustaining blocks for RB Corey Dillon because preventing penetration won't be as big an issue.

? The third reason is Pittsburgh's first two wins came against a rebuilding Tennessee team and a struggling Houston team. Brady and the Patriots are a different animal. New England should eek out the tough win and establish itself as the team to beat in the AFC as a result.

Prediction: Patriots 28, Steelers 27

Black-n-Gold 09-23-2005 04:58 PM

Re: Steelers and Patriots
you need to provide a url link to pictures I believe, it doesn't show for me..

SteelProven 09-23-2005 05:00 PM

Re: Steelers and Patriots

Originally Posted by Black-n-Gold
you need to provide a url link to pictures I believe, it doesn't show for me..

My bad :redface:

tony hipchest 09-23-2005 05:05 PM

Re: Steelers and Patriots
great insight. thanks for the "insider" information. a 28-27 loss would make me puke however.

BlitzburghRockCity 09-23-2005 05:12 PM

Re: Steelers and Patriots
The media coverage surrounding this game is unreal for a preseason game. Everybody has their own opinions as to why the Steelers will win or the Pats. But that's why they play the game. Enough of all this talk from beat writers who never played a down in their life! Let's kick it off and go out and get a W !!!!

Black-n-Gold 09-23-2005 05:13 PM

Re: Steelers and Patriots
Well there's another one for the Patriots. Titans and Texans may be rebuilding, but never the less the Steelers dominated every aspect. The team is healthy, Duce is back, Sunday shall be ours. Troy will hopefully make the record with the 4 sacks this game...

tony hipchest 09-23-2005 05:19 PM

Re: Steelers and Patriots
i like everyone calling teams like the titans crap teams and they go out and demolish "superbowl favorite" ravens. people said the same about our schedule last year. we beat dallas into mediocrity and then poured it on new england and the eagles. once again this year the steelers success is being "blamed" on its lack of competition.

tony hipchest 09-23-2005 05:23 PM

Re: Steelers and Patriots
pittsburgh shut it down in the 2nd half last year against the patriots EXACTLY like they did agains the titans and the texans. only difference was that the pats were still able to muster 20 points in what was otherwise a humiliating loss. dont get me wrong the pats are playing for pride and i dont think they really wanna try their luck playing the colts on the road. they do have confidence in pittsburgh though but it borders on over confidence.

Koopa 09-23-2005 06:56 PM

Re: Steelers and Patriots

Originally Posted by tony hipchest
great insight. thanks for the "insider" information. a 28-27 loss would make me puke however.

lol, berman said we losing to, but he also said the 49ers were going to beat the cowboys so i think he's on drugs right now. the media is just trying to make the pats look unstoppable and that last week was a fluke. but that's good let everyone hate on us cause victory will be sweeter

SteelProven 09-23-2005 08:37 PM

Re: Steelers and Patriots

Originally Posted by tony hipchest
great insight. thanks for the "insider" information. a 28-27 loss would make me puke however.

I wasn't trying to report bad news just some insight on what others thought of the game. Didn't mean to cause and gloom :redface:

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