Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Can Linebackers Bring the Pressure? Key Matchup: QB Tom Brady vs. Lb Bud Dupree

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Can Linebackers Bring the Pressure? Key Matchup: QB Tom Brady vs. Lb Bud Dupree

Article excerpt

Bud Dupree saw what the Houston Texans did to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. He and his teammates saw the Texans defense, led by end Jadeveon Clowney and outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus, continue to pressure and hit Brady by repeatedly lining up over center David Andrews and shooting through inside gaps in the line.

Brady was sacked twice, but he seemingly spent a large part of the game on the ground or throwing the ball away to avoid a loss or another hit on his 39-year-old body. The result: Brady completed less than 50 percent of his passes (18 of 38) and was intercepted twice -- as many times as he was during his 12-game regular season. Clowney said the four-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback was "rattled."

"We watched it, but they're probably prepared for that so we probably have to take different angles," Dupree said. "They're too good a team to let something like that repeat."

Brady is 9-2, including postseason play, against the Steelers and has a passer rating of 114.2 in seven regular-season games against them -- highest against any team he has faced five or more times.

But with the exception of the three division teams who face him twice a year, only the Denver Broncos (23) have sacked Brady more times than the Steelers (17) during the regular season. The Steelers have sacked him four other times in two playoff meetings -- the 2001 and 2004 AFC championship games won by the Patriots.

They will need to do more of that today -- and replicate some of the Texans' success -- if they want to finally beat Brady in New England and advance to the Super Bowl for the third time under coach Mike Tomlin. During their nine-game winning streak, the Steelers have registered 31 sacks, more than any other team.

"Houston did a pretty decent job getting pressure up the middle, but I think everyone pretty much knows that's the plan [against Brady]," safety Mike Mitchell said. …

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