FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Sunday’s AFC Championship Game was won days before a rough Gillette Stadium throng sang along to Bon Jovi during a kickoff, before Patriots broadcaster Scott Zolak sent them into a frenzy by holding adult a “Where is Roger?” pointer on a jumbotron.
The diversion was won by Tuesday when Bill Belichick and his staff put a finishing touches on nonetheless another Patriots gameplan that Steelers manager Mike Tomlin had no answer for. Homefield advantage is good though there is no advantage larger than being some-more prepared than your opponent. After 7 discussion titles in a final 16 years, Belichick keeps his organisation in line, one step forward of a rest of a AFC.
“I’m cattle. we usually go with a herd,” far-reaching receiver Julian Edelman pronounced after a convincing 36-17 victory over Pittsburgh, unknowingly coining another Patriots catchphrase to reinstate “Do your job.”
From a unequivocally initial expostulate Sunday, Belichick and Tom Brady were set out to make Pittsburgh’s immature delegate uncomfortable. New England non-stop a diversion in hyperspeed, mostly gnawing a round with over 25 seconds left on a play clock, forcing a Steelers’ immature delegate to make discerning decisions underneath vigour distinct any they’ve experienced. They crumbled.
“It’s something we’d seen on film that was going to work opposite them,” tackle Nate Solder explained of a up-tempo approach, that carried over into a second half. “But it usually works if you’re creation completions.”
No matter how many Steelers forsaken behind in coverage, Brady found receivers far-reaching open. Tomlin told Ross Tucker on Sports USA Radio during halftime that his immature guys were “scatterbrained.” The Patriots were 9 of 12 on third down by a initial 3 buliding given Brady knew a Steelers section invulnerability improved than a Steelers did. Brady focused on Chris Hogan and Julian Edelman on this night given they were a open ones.
“No one cares who gets a ball,” parsimonious finish Martellus Bennett said. “You might not get any passes, we don’t give a s—. we usually wish to win.”
Tomlin and his staff were outclassed, appearing to manager opposite a Patriots group they saw in Week 7. The Steelers did a good pursuit shutting down New England’s regulating game, distinct that Oct contest. But no manager is improved during adjusting on a fly than Belichick, so a Patriots gave adult on a run early.
The Steelers, on a other hand, stubbornly stayed in their soothing section pass invulnerability all night. The Steelers coaches didn’t ask their cornerbacks to press a line of struggle to interrupt New England’s receivers early in their routes. Giving Tom Brady a same looks regularly over 60 mins is seeking for a delayed death. The usually consistent in a Belichick gameplan is consistent change.
The final few times a Steelers faced New England, Belichick left his best cornerback Malcolm Butler to deflect with Antonio Brown in male coverage. This time, Belichick sent his two best defensive backs during Brown most of a night, with reserve Devin McCourty over a top. During one goal-line sequence, a Patriots had 3 defenders on Brown’s side of a margin with no other receiver in a area. The Patriots were dynamic to make immature receivers Cobi Hamilton and Sammie Coates kick them on a outside, and they couldn’t oblige.
“It’s an bomb team,” Patriots reserve Duron Harmon pronounced of a strategy. “We knew we would try to keep them in front of us, no shots and unequivocally make them expostulate a whole field.”
Brown didn’t have a play over 20 yards, again proof a cliche that Belichick takes divided an opponent’s best weapon. Then again, a Patriots didn’t have to worry about regulating behind Le’Veon Bell after he left a diversion in a initial entertain with a groin injury. Bell and his backup DeAngelo Williams wound adult with usually 54 rushing yards on 20 sum carries.
“We didn’t do a good adequate pursuit or a discerning adequate pursuit bettering to a circumstance,” Tomlin pronounced after a game.
Failing to adjust is not a critique we hear mostly of Belichick, who had his cake and ate adult a Steelers descent gameplan. The Patriots mostly kept 5 defenders on a line of struggle to stop a run, though also kept 5 or 6 defensive backs on a margin scarcely all diversion to forestall large plays.
While Tomlin unsuccessful to know a gameflow, selecting to punt early in a second half rather than going for it on fourth down, Brady and Belichick were in conflict mode all night.
“When we get in a diversion with (Brady), there’s no improved proceed to contend it: He’s a stone-cold killer. He’s all business. Very confident. It’s fun to be around,” Solder said.
Brady had so most fun throwing for 384 yards and 3 touchdowns that he had to be reminded after a diversion of his second touchdown toss to Hogan, an afterthought in Buffalo who tied for a NFL lead in yards-per-catch.
“Oh, a flea flicker,” Brady said. “How could we forget that? It was usually a good call. They were a tiny winded we thought.”
That 34-yard touchdown — that came in response to Pittsburgh’s initial touchdown of a night — orderly summarizes a disproportion in these coaching staffs. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels knew that Steelers reserve Mike Mitchell gets overaggressive in run defense, and he bit tough on a play. He knew a Pittsburgh invulnerability was sucking breeze due to New England’s hurry-up approach.
Mitchell, meanwhile, told reporters that a flea flutter wasn’t partial of a team’s film investigate this week. That’s notwithstanding a Patriots regulating a same play opposite Baltimore in December. That’s notwithstanding a Patriots famously regulating a identical flea flutter to expose Tomlin’s delegate proceed behind in 2007, during his initial deteriorate as Steelers conduct coach. It’s tough to suppose a Patriots staff unwell to manager their players adult to that possibility.
Tomlin remarkable progressing in a week that a Patriots “haven’t had to go by us” during his reign as Steelers conduct coach. But that’s usually loyal given a Steelers didn’t get distant adequate to make it happen. While a Patriots have done 6 true AFC Championship Games, this was Tomlin’s initial outing to a doorstep of a Super Bowl given a 2010 season. The Patriots are 5-2 opposite Tomlin’s teams after this game, creation him one of many coaches that have won an occasional conflict opposite Belichick while losing a war.
This diversion shouldn’t have been such a blowout. The teams seemed uniformly matched in a initial half and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was relocating a round well. Pittsburgh’s descent line dominated a Patriots pass rush adult front. But a Steelers struggled in situational football, like their goal-line offense. The Steelers had dual apart trips inside a five-yard line that didn’t outcome in a touchdown. The Patriots have a No. 1 scoring invulnerability given they bend, though don’t break.
“It was unequivocally 11 points there that we saved, so yeah, it was huge,” Belichick noted.
While a Steelers were relocating back on a idea line late in a initial half, Belichick was smartly holding timeouts to give his offense another possibility to measure before halftime. Brady didn’t gain on that opportunity, though it was another instance of a Patriots players being given each probable possibility to succeed. With one some-more shining gameplan opposite a high-flying Falcons, Belichick could put to rest a discuss about a biggest manager of all-time. But that value starts with courtesy to tiny sum that defines his organization.
“Every manager prepares and has their scouting reports,” Bennett said. “The disproportion is each male here is holding records and creation certain they get all a coaching points given that’s what they expect. The expectations are so high. If we aren’t in a right spot, it creates such a large difference. They reason those high standards for everybody. If Bill calls a bad play, manager will contend ‘That was a bad play though we guys done adult for it.’ Every male is hold accountable. That’s a biggest difference.”
This victory, entrance during a finish of a deteriorate that started with Brady suspended, felt like it had special resonance for this organization. Belichick was loquacious in his regard for his team, magnanimous with his smiles. Brady and friends talked about “finishing a job” in Super Bowl LI, though took time to suffer a tail finish of a run that has left on longer than anyone could have dreamed, longer than a rest of a AFC can stomach.
“I mean, we’re going to a Super Bowl, man. You’ve got to be happy now,” Brady said.
Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.
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