Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Game 8 Matchup: Steelers vs. Patriot Gerry Dulac Breaks Down the Game vs. Their Storied Rival

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Game 8 Matchup: Steelers vs. Patriot Gerry Dulac Breaks Down the Game vs. Their Storied Rival

Article excerpt

GAME PLAN

* When the Patriots have the ball: QB Tom Brady has looked average the past four games, throwing just two touchdowns, four INTs, getting sacked 16 times and never having a passer rating above 75. The Patriots have struggled on third down, converting just 32.2 percent (37 of 115) -- second worst in the AFC. Brady, though, has been without several top performers. RB Shane Vereen is on injured reserve, WR Danny Amendola missed four games with a groin injury and concussion, and TE Rob Gronkowski has just returned after missing the first six games with a back injury. What's more, RT Sebastian Vollmer was placed on injured reserve this past week after breaking a leg against Miami. That has forced Brady to rely on a pair of rookie WRs, Aaron Dobson (26 catches, two TDs) and Kenbrell Thompkins (23 catches, four TDs). The Patriots have been able to effectively run the ball with Stevan Ridley (399 yards on 92 carries) and LeGarrette Blount (265 on 65 carries). The Steelers have already allowed nine rushing TDs, as many as they did in 2012.

* When the Steelers have the ball: The Patriots have already lost their two best defensive players -- NT Vince Wilfork and LB Jerod Mayo -- and they played the past two games without shutdown CB Aqib Talib (hip flexor). However, Talib is expected to play today and will likely be matched against Antonio Brown, who leads the NFL with 56 catches. Talib has four of the team's 10 INTs -- third in the AFC. The defense has forced a turnover in 35 consecutive games, best active streak in the league. The Patriots will generate pressure on QB Ben Roethlisberger (26 sacks) with their front people. Defensive end Chandler Jones (61/2) and tackles Chris Jones (41/2) and Tommy Kelly (21/2) have accounted for 131/2 of the team's 24 sacks. Rob Ninkovich is their hybrid defensive end/linebacker, the latest version of Mike Vrabel. The Steelers are expected to be without G David DeCastro (ankle), who has been their best lineman, and could also miss G Ramon Foster (concussion). LB Brandon Spikes leads the team with 75 tackles, including a career-high 22 against the Bengals earlier this season.

KEEP AN EYE ON

WR/KR Julian Edelman ... He is the Patriots' leading receiver with a career-high 48 catches, but Edelman's biggest impact is as a punt returner, ranking among the best in NFL history. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.