Even without Roethisberger, Pats defense wary of Steelers

Steven Senne  AP

During this week’s interview, Brady explained why he walked out of his press conference, and it’s because the Patriot Way is to not make off-the-field headlines.

“Once I got out there running around, it felt like football”, said Brady, who completed 29 of 35 passes for 376 yards and three touchdowns. His passer rating is 135.5. Very few quarterbacks in history have processed plays like Brady does, and apparently, he barely even needs to look at a tablet or piece of paper to do it.

Brady has targeted his tight ends at almost twice the NFL average this season, far and away the highest percentage in the league.

To that point, when it comes to the passing game, veterans like Julian Edelman (nine catches in the two games since Brady’s return) and Rob Gronkowski (12 catches, one for a touchdown in that same span) have meshed seamlessly with the likes of newcomers like Bennett (11 catches, three for touchdowns in the last two games). Between them, they have 39 catches for 644 yards (16.5-yard ave.) and five TDs.

Brady says he’s still shaking off the rust – It’s hard to imagine there’s any rust on a player who came out and threw for over 400 yards in his first outing of 2016 and then followed it up by almost doing it again a week later. Brady fired a fastball low and away and Gronkowski went down and made a shoestring catch. “We played, I thought, some decent situational football at times”. Although he has always been a fan favorite, the crowd’s excitement to see him back on the field was indescribable.

When Steelers have the ball…. Silent counts were a major issue for the team in their AFC Championship Game loss last January in Denver. Having Shazier back may help.

Matching up with players such as Gronkowski and Bennett is the reason the Steelers selected Shazier in the first round of the 2014 draft. “I guess it was, stay in the same spot and get two reps out of one route”. Every single week, I just try to go out and do the most I can every week.

“It’s a challenging defense to play”. That is more than any other Patriots receiver. The Broncos, coming off a two-game losing streak, have one of the better defenses in the league but their offense hasn’t been clicking recently.

Patriots rushing defense has played fairly well, despite allowing over 120 yards on the ground…

The Kick Return Game: Anyone missing Brandon Tate, yet? Regardless, Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill combined for 28 carries and 87 yards, good for just a 3.1 yards per carry average.

“They’ve done a couple of things in the past – putting an offensive tackle out as ineligible but he’s not really”.

Have Tom be terrific. The drive took just 2:09 off the clock.

Be handy with Landry. There also could have been a touchdown on the fade to Green on a 3rd and goal, had Dalton put more air under the pass.

The Patriots are known for attempting to minimize distractions from and through the media, but this topic has hit home for many professional athletes because of how often they are in locker rooms.

The topper came this week when Gronkowski was taken off the injury report for the first time this season and has become a full participant in practices. The Steelers go into Sunday’s game with the 30th ranked pass defense in the National Football League, allowing 298 yards per game.

Get to Brady in bunches. But the pass rush is in disarray, so they will have to turn to the secondary.