- The long interception Kyle Boller threw in the fourth quarter that kept the Patriots in the game.
- The inexplicable, panicky timeout called on defense with under two minutes left, a nanosecond before the ball was snapped, that negated what should have been a game-deciding fourth-down stop.
- The many penalties (some blatant) that kept
New Englanddrives alive.
- The general hotheadedness and lack of composure.
Still, for all the gaffes, even Kyle Boller made plays, Willis McGahee ran tough, and the Ravens defense pressured Tom Brady, clogged passing lanes and limited much of what the Patriots tried to do.
The Ravens and Steelers, division rivals, play similar schemes to a large extent, particularly on defense, with an emphasis on establishing the run on offense. The difference between the Ravens and the Steelers? The Steelers are a better team, with a much better quarterback and a better overall defense. Sunday should be interesting.
We suppose it should not be much of a surprise to see such excellent play this season from Tyrone Carter, a career backup and intermittent starter as an injury substitute. The 31 year-old Carter, after all, is a savvy veteran who was the 1999 Jim Thorpe Award winner as college football’s best defensive back when he was a senior at the
While we doubt there will be much man-to-man coverage against
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Then again, the Patriots throw so many weapons* at opponents … it will take a total team effort, plus a favorable alignment of stars, anti-hack experts proactively safeguarding the Steelers computer systems and, perhaps most importantly, atmospheric jamming signals that block the Patriots’ attempts to intercept all Steelers’ play calls on both sides of the ball, as well as conversations on the sideline, the coach’s booth upstairs and in the wiretapped rooms in the team hotel the night before the game.
Yes, it will take a total team effort. On defense, we could see:
- Front-seven type players (Keisel, Farrior, Hampton, Foote, Haggans, etc.) mixing up pass-rush duties and clogging running lanes, and the midfield passing lanes/crossing routes.
- Ike Taylor/Anthony Smith focusing on Moss
- Tyrone Carter shadowing Welker
- Deshea Townsend and/or Bryant McFadden on Donte Stallworth and/or Jabar Gaffney.
- And The Silverback, James Harrison, hunting down Tom Brady.If you haven’t heard, James Harrison is a little intense.
On the Surface …
After all the hand-wringing over the
muddy quagmire soggy, sandy turf at Heinz Field, it should be interesting to see how the Steelers play in game conditions on the faster FieldTurf at Gillette Stadium in Monday night game slopfest against the winless Miami Dolphins a week ago, many have been clamoring for the Steelers to install FieldTurf at Heinz Hines Field.
Following Sunday night’s game, here’s what Ben Roethlisberger had to say about the playing surface at Heinz Field:
“Wet and sandy. Every time you took a snap, when Sean [Mahan] would snap it, water and sand would come up into your face and it would kind of get in your eyes and it would be all over your hands. Honestly, that's why Willie [Parker] fumbled. I remember when I took it, I went to hand it to him [and] it was soaked with a lot of sand. And it was tough.”
We have a feeling nobody will be talking about the turf following the Steelers-Patriots game, but still …as a backstory, it should be interesting to watch. Again, though, it’s not as if the Steelers have never played on FieldTurf. Lots of stadiums and practice facilities in the NFL use the stuff, including the Steelers at their own indoor practice facility on the South Side.
In any case, it’s been reported widely that the Steelers’ players prefer a grass surface. And on Sunday, the playing surface probably won’t make any difference in the outcome of the game.
*Moss, Welker, Donte Stallworth, Troy Brown, Jabar Gaffney, Kelley Washington, Chad Jackson, tight ends (Ben Watson, Kyle Brady) , running backs (Laurence Maroney, Kevin Faulk), not to mention Tom Brady-Quinn, doting
husband, loving father and the best quarterback in football.