The Steelers disposed of the Cardinals rather handily on Sunday, and now their focus is on Brady and the Pats. If you read Todd’s article about the matchups and breakdowns, you’ll get a pretty good sense where this game might end up. One question still remains – what’s the one key that will allow the Steelers to beat the Patriots this Sunday?
I’m sure many will disagree, but I strongly feel that if the Steelers can get the ball first and put seven points on the board on their first drive, they have an excellent chance at winning this game. Oh really? The whole game can be decided in the first five to eight minutes in the first quarter. Yup. The Steelers have shown in five games this season that if they come out with a hot start, they win the game.
That doesn’t mean they haven’t struggled to finish out those wins. The win against the Seahawks is the only game where the ‘Hawks never had a chance to come back and win. The most recent win against the Cards, though the defense allowed yards and points in the 4th quarter, showed that the Steelers can indeed finish strong as long as the offense keeps clicking.
What will be the difference with the Patriots is that the Steelers desperately need that same ‘hot’ start they are getting from Big Ben and key stops by the defense. The team gains confidence and they play one hell of a 1st half as a whole. Yes, the second half has been a different story. But, they’ve been starting to right that ship as of last week. Will it continue? That’s left to be seen yet. But the fast start is key. I can even tell you the play it needs to be – a 20-30 yard slant route or flat to Mike Wallace that results in either a TD or puts them within the Red Zone. That essentially tells the Pats – “Get ready. This isn’t going to be easy for you.” The Pats passing defense is so poor right now, I feel that could be an early (and maybe crushing) blow to their secondaries confidence on how they solve the Mike Wallace problem.
If the Steelers can jump out to a quick 7-0, 10-0 or 13-0 lead, then they have a great chance at beating the Pats. It will become a gun slinging shootout at that point, and feel that the Steelers finally have the weapons this season to play that type of game as long as the offensive line can give Ben the protection he needs. I agree with Todd that you shouldn’t be shocked if you see a combined total of 70 points for this game. (I’m calling my bookie right now for the over, Todd)
If the Steelers do not have that hot start and find themselves down 14-0 or even 10-0 at the end of the first of midway through the second, they are in big trouble. Even with this firepower – I feel that the offense is young and inexperienced enough that they can’t have one the Steelers’ famous comebacks that has made Big Ben pretty legendary in that category. And I don’t think I’m blowin’ smoke here. We’ve seen that the offense can struggle to hold onto a lead, how can we expect them to catch up to an offensive juggernaut like the Pats when down by ten or more early on in the game? Maybe the Steelers’ running game is to blame for the ‘closing up game’ aspect, but we’ve seen Ben struggle in the second half too.
I feel oddly good about this game. I will feel even better if they get off to a fast start. I will feel totally awesomesauce if they can pull out a win against the Pats. And if that happens, the Ravens won’t even see what hit them a week later.
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