December 6, 2007

Two Teams Enter, One Team Leaves...


"I tell you, I think Pittsburgh’s a real good defensive football team. They do a lot of things well and they’re a big challenge to get ready for.
- Bill Belichick
"This is not Appalachian State against Michigan...We're going to play our game, we don't let people dictate to us how we're going to play defense."
- Mike Tomlin

The day grows nearer and the tension mounts. By NFL standards, Hollywood couldn't write a script this good. The Sandman guaranteed a win. Rodney Harrison said, "never heard of him." Brett Keisel said we don't have much to lose. Mike Tomlin said this is not Appalaichan State vs. Michigan. Bill Belichick said Pittsburgh is a hard team to prepare for. The excitement is so palpable you can taste it...

But despite mine and seemingly the rest of the Steeler nation's enthusiasm this week, I think we all realize this is the 2007 New England Patriots we're facing on Sunday. All the enthusiasm in the world isn't going to help us if we don't play a disciplined game.

As my usual Thursday routine dictates, I wanted to give you guys some of the numbers on us and them. So we have a tangible idea of what we're up against. But what I keep running into is that we can't really determine anything by the numbers. And I mean that more than usual, for different reasons. Below is a cursory rundown of the numbers for both sides. Read through and then I'll explain my point a little further.

OFFENSE:
Passing Yds ~ Patriots = 3749 (#1) || Steelers = 2578 (#21)
Rushing Yds ~ Patriots = 1456 (#8) || Steelers = 1660 (#3)
Total Yds ~ Patriots = 5205 (#1) || Steelers = 4238 (#12)
Points Scored ~ Patriots = Let's Just Not (#1) || Steelers = 296 (#6)

DEFENSE:
Passing Yds ~ Patrtiots = 2588 (#9) || Steelers = 2065 (#1)
Rushing Yds ~ Patriots = 1114 (#6) || Steelers = 922 (#2)
Total Yds ~ Patriots = 3702 (#6) || Steelers = 2987 (#1)
Points Allowed ~ Patriots = 209 (#5) || Steelers = 155 (#1)

So what does all this crap tell us? Absolutely nothing. All it says is that we're a dominant Defense (on paper), solid against the pass and the run, and that the Patriots are a dominant Offense (on paper), deadly through the air, and at least decent on the ground. But we already knew that. So what kind of insight can we glean? None. That's exactly the point.

This game will come down to who executes their game plan most effectively, who plays the more disciplined game, and who wants it more. Emotion will play a big part. So while Anthony Smith probably should have kept his mouth shut, and not given the Pats any inkling of additional motivation, it does add some fire to this game. Fire on our side as well as theirs, but fire nonetheless. And as I've spread around the blogosphere today, so long as Smith can step up and back up his mouth, this might actually not have been such a bad thing.

So I'll get into my things the Steelers should do to secure a win, tomorrow. But in the meantime, think about it - how much will this game be about energy, fire, and discipline over skill? Skill exists in spades, on both sides. But what's the factor that'll push the advantage one way or another?

Or am I crazy and none of this makes any sense? You tell me...

REFERENCE MATERIAL:
Steelers Smith Guarantees Upset [Associated Press]
Steelers Eager to Hand Patriots 1st Defeat [Associated Press]
Bulletin Board Bullseye [Boston Herald]
Pats Agree: Nastiness Out of Game [Newburyport (MA) News]
Tomlin Carries on Tradition - Not Afraid of Perfect Pats [SI]
Jason Whitlock - Tomlin Needs Signature Win [Fox Sports]
Like 2004, Steelers Trying to Stop Pats [Tribune-Review]
2007 Patriots Stats [Pro-football-reference]
2007 Patriots Stats [ESPN]

Ballhype: hype it up!

5 comments:

domski43 said...

all steelers fans know that we should have won against arizona, denver, and the jets...this just shows how delicate of a balance there is in an nfl game. this delicate balance has tipped to the patriots the past two weeks...not to mention two back up qbs by the name of feeley and boller almost solved the patriots' puzzle. On one hand i'm afraid that the patriots might just lash out after their poor showing the past two weeks or are ripe for the taking. have to agree with you cotter...not sure what to expect. knowing belichick, the steelers better expect the unexpected...my prediction, the patriots try to pound the rock on us early and often and check down underneath...a similar formula that the jets used. the steelers' defensive stamina will be put to the test.

domski43 said...

tobiathan, maybe the ravens and eagles were able to move the ball effectively on offense against the pats is because they dont have "film" on their back up qbs???

cotter, happy hanukkah!!!

Cotter said...

I will not play your dreidel game you bitch...

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

You're crazy AND this all makes sense.

Tobiathan said...

good point Doms. not havint video of the QB they're facing could very well have hurt the Prats. however, i think there should be plenty of tape on Boller from the past.

the real upside of Ben is that he is a great improviser and can make throws on the run that most NFL QBs can't make under perfect conditions. and Ben can run the ball pretty damned well too. hard for LBs to cover.

Willie and refes will decide this wek's game for us, ultimately.

more in the above post...