After a defeating loss in Oakland, it’s hard to remember the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the archrivals only two Sundays ago. The long flight out west pushed the bliss of beating the Ravens so far in the rearview, it’s as if it never happened.
Maybe a visit to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick can get the Steelers to refocus.
A dumb play here, multiple mental lapses there — the Steelers have struggled to escape themselves throughout the first seven games, five of which have been losses. Slow starts and sloppy finishes have stymied a talented roster.
Don’t think the Steelers are talented? Name five defensive starters for the 6-2 Patriots. Five CURRENT starters. The Patriots’ strong defense has been clipped down by injuries this year. Defensive leaders Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo and Aqib Talib are either on IR or have missed significant time. The Patriots don’t have five former first- and second-round draft picks fighting for time on defense like the Steelers do with Jason Worilds, Jarvis Jones, LaMarr Woodley, Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward.
The Steelers’ entire defense is loaded with more talent than questions. It’s true some veterans struggle more with playing catch-up like free safety Ryan Clark and cornerback Ike Taylor. And some believe defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau falls in this category as well.
But the Steelers have the players to beat a weakened Patriots team. 6-foot-1 slot corner Cortez Allen can cover Brady’s favorite weapon Rob Gronkowski. Troy Polamalu will make Brady (six interceptions, nine touchdowns) hesitate. And the duo of Heyward and Woodley can beat the replacement for New England right tackle Sebastian Vollmer (broken leg in Week 7).
Brady has already been sacked 23 times this season, just four fewer than Big Ben. Woodley has a particular knack for finding Brady, sacking him twice in their last meeting two years ago, which the Steelers won.
It’s time for Mike Tomlin to catch on this season as well. If he does one thing this week (besides purchasing a hyperbaric chamber so David DeCastro can play), he must relight the passion the Steelers had against the Ravens only two weeks ago.
They must be balanced between hungry and confident in New England like they were to face the defending Super Bowl Champions. No thoughts of righting their sinking ship: just win, baby.