Brady Doesn't Own the Steelers, Only the Rooneys Do: A Week 8 Analysis

Wow. What else is there to say about yesterday’s thrilling, incredible, insanely enjoyable dismantling of the New England Patriots?

There’s no need to talk about individual players, simply because that win was a remarkable effort by each and every member of the team.

For as much as I wrote about how pessimistic I was feeling about this game last week, the team answered all of my criticisms and more.

Somehow Woodley was able to single-handedly generate a pass rush on Brady. It’s unsettling to see that he’s suffered some sort of hamstring injury, especially considering how beat up the defense already is, but he was extremely impressive yesterday.

Similarly, the linebackers in general were outstanding, as they hardly missed a beat without either Farrior or Harrison, and had no trouble covering the underneath routes that Brady normally thrives on.

But the biggest standouts were undoubtedly on offense. It was that side of the ball’s continuous success that kept Brady off the field for much of the game. I’ve talked a lot about the development of the young receivers recently, but this was a true breakout performance.

Ben has always been stuck on the edge of being a true “elite” quarterback because he has never had the offensive weapons to truly stretch the field. No disrespect to Hines, but he’s been a possession receiver for the majority of Ben’s career, and there hasn’t been a whole lot else for him to work with. Until now.

The combination of Brown, Wallace, Sanders and Miller is about as terrifying for opposing defenses as any team’s receiving corps is right now. In fact, they’re shockingly similar to the other top team in the NFL, the Green Bay Packers.

While the Steelers may not “spread it out” as much as they do, Roethlisberger looked a lot like Rodgers yesterday with the way he was able to fire the ball to every receiver on the field for big gains at any point in time.

Some of that was certainly a product of the Patriots’ weak secondary. But even the run game looked good, as Mendenhall averaged more than five yards a carry. The offensive line was similarly consistent. Again, the Pats’ pass rush is hardly threatening opposition, but the unit has really gelled recently.

I’m not necessarily buying that Pittsburgh is the “team to beat in the AFC.” Not yet. Let’s see what happens on Sunday night against Baltimore, and then we’ll talk.

Besides, it’s not like the team is perfect. Troy has been slipping all year- it’s painful to admit, but it’s true.

He shows flashes of his former self at times, like when he jumped on Gronkowski’s back, as if he was going for a piggy-back ride, to bring him down.

But he’s not the source of chaos he used to be. The team still can’t force turnovers, and that was their bread and butter last year. They’ve learned to live without them, but eventually they have to start creating takeaways.

A large part of that have been injuries, to be sure. There are players out at every position on defense, and while Harrison should be returning soon, the team’s depth is being tested.

But that doesn’t mean that this team doesn’t deserve credit for that win. After starting the season the way they did, this was a HUGE ego boost for the team and its fans.

They’ll be headed into this game against the Ravens with tremendous confidence, and I think they will be as fired up to dominate Baltimore as the Ravens were in Week 1.

Let’s just hope for more of the same next week, and that this team continues to prove me wrong.

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