Despite statistical decline Tom Brady still can throw a game winning touchdown in crucial moments.
Normally a game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots was a sure sign of an exciting time. Both teams combine eight AFC conference championships and five Super Bowls in the last decade (Steelers in 2005, 2008 and Patriots in 2001, 2003, 2004).
But sometimes the NFL is relentless. Kansas City Chiefs are undefeated, Cincinnati Bengals are on the rise, despite losing to the Dolphins yesterday, Mike Wallace is playing run and catch up the Miami sun and Wes Welker is enjoying horseback riding with Peyton Manning in Denver.
Going into Sunday’s game the New England Patriots are 6-2 and Pittsburgh Steelers are now 2-5. But the Steelers are improving and playing much better now then their record.
Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said the game is a “must win” and Gregg Rosenthal from NFL-media wrote: “We’re always a little sceptical of the ‘must win’ tag. If the Steelers lose the game and fall to 2-6, is their season over? If they win in Foxborough, is the following game against Buffalo no longer a ‘must win’?
Rosenthal has a point, however Roethlisberger too. It’s not getting any easier if the Steelers lose this game.
On the other side, the record of the New England Patriots reveals not who they are. Trading Wes Welker, their most reliable weapon, undisputable one of the most reliable wide receivers in all of football, to the Denver Broncos and singing Danny Amendola, who has yet to show that he can stay healthy. Adding to the mix the injury-prone All Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski. To sum it up: The Patriots are having huge problem at their wide receiver position and that leads to shaky performances on the field but has yet to convert to the record.
NFL-experts are blaming Tom Brady for the mess among them New York Times writer Brian Burke:
“First, fifth, second, second, fourth and 31st. Those are the league rankings of the Patriots’ net passing efficiency with Tom Brady at the helm since New England’s record-breaking 2007 season. The Patriots currently rank second to last in the most important and most consistent of all facets of team performance.”
I blame it on management. Not paying key players on offence and replace them with inexperienced rookies and injury-prone players is not a good formula for success. And let’s face it you don’t wake up and throw a game winning touchdown pass to a rookie wide out in the last seconds to win the game as Tom Brady did it against the Saints.
The New England Patriots won’t miss the playoff and won’t probably lose to the Steelers this week mainly because the chemistry between Brady and his rookie catchers is improving and will improve further over the season and Patriots defence will continue to play great.
Despite all the negativity surrounding the Steelers and Patriots Sunday’s game will be a good one.
Who are you picking?
image: © Jeffrey Beall