Game Day Preview…New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers

A weeks ago, the schedule said he had a game for the ages on the schedule.

Yes, he didn't beat the New England Patriots Sunday. There were no sacks. And that's about all you can ask for out of your backup quarterback. Landry Jones will start today versus the Patriots, with Zach Mettenberger backing him up.

The Steelers, with three minutes to go, marched down the field on the arm of Landry Jones but just into New England territory failed to convert on 4th down.

Gronk on his franchise record-tying 68th touchdown: "One more and I got 69 touchdowns, if you know what I mean". "You do it good for two plays, then you have a third bad play".

"Oh my god", Belichick said.

Not all stats though. "The issue was in the red zone".

And if you look at those numbers for the Patriots defense, they were all fairly gaudy.

"We just didn't get off our blocks well enough, we weren't consistent in the run game, we didn't make tackles". They came away with 10 points.

The Bucs (3-3) fell behind by 14 points early before scoring 27 straight to deal the Niners (1-6) their sixth straight loss for San Francisco's longest losing streak since 2008. For the New England Patriots, it was not the same case. And that's by design, said Ninkovich. His status for the game is questionable, but the fact that he traveled with the team is a good sign that he could play Sunday. "They can key on certain players, but if you do that, you're vulnerable to other things". Regardless, they still got to the redzone but a pass to Antonio Brown was intercepted in the endzone.

"Ben kind of hangs his hat on, and what he's done well for most of his career, is extending plays and throwing people off, stepping up in the pocket", Jones said. It's hard in this league to be flawless.

So far, it hasn't been doing that, allowing 394.8 yards per game (28th in the NFL) and 20.5 points per game (11th in NFL). But the Patriots started off slow too. Brought in to serve as a veteran presence behind Bell, Blount ended up seeing his role diminish as Bell became one of the best all-around backs in the league, his potential on full display as he practically carried the Steelers on the back of his No. 26 jersey in a 27-24 escape against the Titans.

"You can't just pin your ears back because that's when you get in trouble", Ninkovich explained. Bell ran for 7, then Brown on a reverse for 13. Chris Hogan has been involved, and so has Julian Edelman, although the latter is not quite up to his usual standards while dealing with a foot problem that has plagued him since last season. (New England is 13-6-2 ATS during that span.) As a home underdog under Tomlin, the Steelers are 7-1-2 against the spread, which is an 87.5-percent coverage percentage. "Oh yeah. He's a tremendous player, great hands, catches the ball, very quick, makes people miss, strong, breaks tackles, excellent balance, tough, doesn't run out of bounds, fights for extra yardage, a great player".

After that game (and really, for most of Belichick's tenure here), the Patriots were more interested in seeing what a quarterback could do in terms of stringing plays together.



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