Good, Bad, & Ugly: 2016 – Week 7 – New England Patriots
Driving back from Pittsburgh was a long hard drive. There are losses that hurt, and there are losses that confound you.
My daughter, Emily, asked me what I thought about this game, and I said it was the kind of loss that can haunt you. It’s a game that we could have won, maybe even should have won. It’s a game that was within the Steelers grasp, but it slipped through their fingers. These kinds of games are harder to take than blow outs, in my opinion.
Yes, you can claim a “moral” victory if you want, but as far as I can tell, “moral” victories in the NFL usually still count as a loss.
Were we under-manned? Of course we were.
Were we playing with some 2nd and even 3rd string players? You bet.
And yet we were poised to strike first. Even after that we were poised to tie a game that at one point was 14-0 and looked like it was going to become a humiliating defeat. We won the turn over battle, but still lost the game.
A tough loss, no doubt about it. Let’s look at the Good, Bad and the Ugly.
Jarvis Jones was the highlight of the game yesterday as far as “splash” plays go. The truth is, the entire defense was actually pretty darn good. There isn’t even anything to equivocate about there. For the most part they held the Patriots offense, and Tom Brady in check.
Still Jarvis Jones stood out. A forced fumble, a sack, and basically making his presence felt all over the place. This is the Jarvis Jones the Steelers expected to get when they drafted him in the 1st round. Maybe the learning curve, hampered by injuries, just took a while. If he keeps this up he will probably make himself a lot of money this off season, even if it’s with somebody else.
Landry Jones did not lose this game.
Was he perfect? Not even close.
Did he make a few mistakes? Yes, he did.
But at the same time he showed why the Steelers played him, and why they kept him as the backup QB.
The throw he made to Antonio Brown down the field was beautiful. A couple of the throws he made to Colbi Hamilton were also excellent. Yes, the interception in the end zone was bad, and it very well could have resulted in a 14 point swing (Remember, the Patriots drove down the field after that INT and went up 7-0). It changed momentum badly after the defense did its job.
So, yeah, that was a tough play by LJ.
Still, he did not lose the game for them – it’s not on his shoulders. It was on the team as a whole. Landry did what a backup should do, and maybe more.
This guy continues to be a weapon, and while his effect may have ended up being blunted by the Patriots ability to move the ball at times, he dropped a couple of punts inside the 20, and for the most part kicked the Steelers into good positions (unlike the Patriots punter who badly shanked at least one punt yesterday).
Jordan Berry has been a really pleasant surprise this year.
How many false start penalties did we get called for? How many holding calls? One definitely took points off the board, and the timing of each was just perfectly suited to kill drives.
It’s our stadium! We aren’t supposed to be false starting.
Maybe there is a difference in cadence or something with Landry Jones versus Ben, but whatever it is, it shouldn’t have been the kind of problem it sure seemed to be.
At one point I think we had 8 penalties while the Patriots had none. We ended up with 10 for 85 yards compared to the Patriots with 4-40.
This is where it hurts having a 3rd string backup starting at tackle. Chris Hubbard has done a great job filling in, but it’s hard to keep that elevated level of play all the time, and there is a reason he’s a backup to the backup, rather than a starter. (Marcus Gilbert, hurry back.)
The Missed Opportunities
They were there. We won the turnover battle 2-1. We actually won in number of turnovers, and yet in my mind, we still lost that battle.
Points off of turnovers: Patriots 7 – Steelers 0.
We didn’t capitalize on the mistakes that they made, and we didn’t make them pay for them. Instead, the one turnover we had cost us 7 points, which is huge in a game where we only lost by 11. (And as I said earlier, that turnover cost us 7… so who knows what happens if we start off leading 7-0 rather than trailing 0-7).
Talk about winning the battle and still losing the war. That was what I felt like after all the squandered opportunities.
Brady the Runner
I almost can’t bear to mention this. How the hell do you let Tom Brady, slow as hell Tom Brady get out of the pocket and beat you for first downs? Look, I know that because of the type of defense we were playing our linebackers and secondary was running with their backs to the offense, so they couldn’t see when Brady would escape the pocket. Our D-line knew it too, and that should have kept them more disciplined. T
hey had to contain Brady, had to keep their lanes, and they didn’t.
So Brady turned into Fran Tarkenton and picked up first downs out of the pocket willy-nilly.
I was sitting near a bunch of Patriot fans, and even they couldn’t believe it.
I think we actually had a good game plan for the Patriots. The defense played well.
What we didn’t do is account for the fact that they knew we needed to run the ball, and dump passes to Le’Veon Bell. Landry checked down so many times that I think he just stopped looking down field. The Patriots, I don’t think, ever rushed more than 3 guys, and that meant that there were 8 guys in coverage, and a bunch of them were just sitting there playing zone while the secondary went man.
They had a great plan, and we didn’t adjust to it. Maybe we couldn’t.
Look, I know I’m not as gifted a football mind as those guys making millions to do it. In fact, I’m probably a football moron compared to them. Still, it sure looked to me like we had a brain fart or something, because we kept doing the same damn things over and over, and they just weren’t working. We always seemed to be in second and long and third and long situations after a short run or a dump off pass.
And will somebody please explain to me how dumping off the ball on 3rd and 9 to a receiver or back at the line of scrimmage makes sense? Yes, I know, they expect that guy to make a play, make a guy miss. The problem was there were 4 other guys there to make the tackle if the first guy did miss.
It just felt like we didn’t make any adjustments at all, and the Patriots made just enough to finally break through and score.
So the magic of Emily is over. She’s 5-1 now. If I didn’t hate Tom Brady before, I hate him even more now.
Tom Brady made my daughter sad. D**K!
Luckily, Emily got to meet her all-time favorite Steeler, Franco Harris, at the game and so admittedly she was less concerned about the game. I’m not sure when she’ll come down from cloud nine. (FYI, Franco is the nicest guy, I mean it, just what a great great dude.)
We have the bye next week Nation, which makes this last game even harder to take.
Hopefully the entire team just chews on this for a couple weeks and when we next take the field in Baltimore, they come out and rip the Ravens a new one.
Until next time Nation!