The Pittsburgh Steelers have been in a tailspin the last three weeks, putting their playoff hopes in jeopardy. The New England Patriots are a must win game. The best chance of punching their postseason ticket is maintaining their division lead. It starts with beating the Patriots, and they’ll likely have to play near perfect football to do that.
The Steelers have been far from perfect this season, and much more so over the last three weeks. Here are four Steelers keys to victory over the Patriots.
Play the ball in coverage
The key to beating Tom Brady is to take the ball away from him. That means the Steelers secondary has to be thinking interceptions. All tackling the catch and knocking down passes does is give Brady another chance to beat you.
Last season the Steelers led the Patriots with a few minutes left in the game. Sean Davis had a chance to seal the game for the Steelers but dropped an interception, giving Brady another chance. Moments later he lead the Patriots to the go-ahead touchdown. The defense needs to take full advantage of every chance and take the ball away from Brady.
Pressure Brady up the Middle
Brady doesn’t like pressure, especially pressure coming from up the middle. This kind of pressure has forced him into making mistakes. Javon Hargrave has been consistently doing just that for the past three weeks. Hargrave needs to capitalize and take advantage of this to make Brady uncomfortable.
When Brady is uncomfortable, he gets rattled. When Brady gets rattled he makes mistakes. The more mistakes Brady makes, the better it is for the Steelers.
Run the Ball Between the Tackles
The Steelers have the best offensive line in the NFL, and they love to run block. The Patriots run defense gives up 113 yards per game on the ground and ranks 15th. Their run defense is weakest between the tackles. The Steelers have gotten away from running the ball too often this season. That’s made things more difficult for Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
The more the Steelers run the ball, the less traffic their two star receivers have faced. Hopefully James Conner will be available. If not, the speed and power of Trey Edmunds could cause problems for the Patriots run defense.
Protect the Football
When the Steelers turn the ball over it seems to come in spurts. Too many have come when they are in scoring position. The Steelers definitely can’t afford to leave any points on the field against Brady. Ben Roethlisberger has to protect the football and make the most of each throw, especially in the redzone, if the Steelers want to win this game. He must be patient and precise, not only to put points on the board, but to protect the defense from Brady as well. This may be the most important of the four Steelers keys to victory vs Patriots. The Bottom LineYes, the Steelers lead their division and are in control of their postseason destiny. However, a loss on Sunday could change everything. This is their most important game of the season, one they are more than capable of Winning. Beating the Patriots would be huge for two reasons. One, The Steelers would finally beat the Patriots and break the mental block. Two, it would give them the confidence they need to finish strong