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Patriots vs. Steelers: Fan Notes from the Game

Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots' 55-31 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Jim Rogash

And just like that, all is once again right with the world.

Anyone who has been reading my inane ramblings for a while now knows that I'm always a little -okay, a lot - on edge before the start of every Patriots game. When most fans are busting out the nachos, wings, and beer, I'm sitting at home, alone in my recliner, nervous as can be, and busting out the beer. I would love to be able to go a sports bar and relax and watch the game (of course, that would also require having friends who actually want to watch the Pats with me, of which there are now none), but that just isn't possible.

This week, however, I was oddly calm heading into a late afternoon matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which was extremely unusual; there's something about a Patriots vs. Steelers game that always sets me on edge. However, this was just one of those games that I knew the Patriots were going to win before the teams even took the field. With the Red Sox winning the World Series, the city of Boston riding high, and the Sox leading the Pats out of the tunnel to start the game, there was simply no way that New England was going to be the guys responsible from bringing the city down off of this mountain. And sure enough, the Pats came through in style, clicking on offense and getting some of their stank back to the tune of a 55-31 beatdown of the Steelers as they head into the bye week.

Let's get to the notes.

  • CBS decided to show about 10 minutes of the Washington Redskins celebrating their overtime win against the Chargers, so I missed the beginning of this game. The first play I actually saw was a strip sack by Ninkovich and a fumble recovery by Joe Vellano, which was a refreshing change of pace: last time I missed the start of a Pats game, the first play I watched was a long pass from Mark Sanchez to Stephen Hill. It was a coverage sack, too, which makes it that much better.
  • Glad Stevan Ridley finally got the start; looks like Josh McDaniels was reading up on his Richard Hill.
  • A brutal bye week for me in fantasy forced me to start Le'Veon Bell this week against the Patriots, which I absolutely hate to do. Rooting for anyone playing against the Patriots to do well makes me feel dirty.
  • Julian Edelman looks like a kid who just went trick or treating at the house that used to hand out full-sized candy bars but now hands out dental floss every time he has to call for a fair catch.
  • Ike Taylor was totally rocking the Rob Ryan "who farted" face during the defensive introductions. Good for him.
  • Watching Rob Gronkowski catch a regulation sized NFL football is like watching Andre the Giant drink a beer.
  • Whatever happened to the Tommy B dive play on 4th and goal from the 1? That play used to be automatic.
  • That Devin McCourty pick was all Brandon Spikes. Perfectly timed the blitz and forced Big Ben to throw it early.
  • DANNY AMENDOLA! It only took nine weeks! Hope he didn't blow out his shoulder on the congratulatory high fives.
  • With that catch, Danny A became the 50th Patriot to haul a TD pass from Tom Brady. Ironically, the 50th girl to pass on Alec Shane's advances was Annie D.
  • For all the lousy angles he takes, Steve Gregory is a very good tackler- especially for his size.
  • On Chandler Jones' first sack of the day, he faked coming off the edge, cut to the inside, and came at Ben Roethlisberger untouched. That was such a sweet move even juked me out of my pants - and I wasn't even wearing any.
  • How in the hell does Bell pick up 29 1/2 yards on 3rd and 30? How can that possibly happen? Especially since the Pats were coming off a timeout?
  • Am I crazy, or did Chandler Jones line up in coverage on one play?
  • Isaac Sopoaga doesn't look all that big considering he's 6'2, 330. Maybe I'm just so used to seeing Vince Wilfork's huge gut rumbling up the middle, everyone else looks small by comparison.
  • The silence from the crowd after the defense stuffed Bell on 4th down was mind-boggling. Just this once, I'm going to give the crowd yesterday a pass, as they likely spent most of their energy cheering for the Red Sox on Saturday.
  • That said, though...I could hear individual conversations going on on the Steelers sideline when Pittsburgh was on offense. Next time I need a nice, quiet place to take a nap, I'm going to go to a Pats game.
  • How sweet would it be if airplanes actually had a grill class?
  • I'm gonna go ahead and give the first Gronkspike of the season a C+. A little too wobbly for my liking and not enough height. Great power though, and Gronk will be back to midseason form before long.
  • Hey, weird...Kyle Arrington was lined up out wide and got beat deep.
  • A healthy Rob Gronkowski is absolutely uncoverable one on one. Just can't be done.
  • Brady hits Amendola in stride on that 57 yard gain, he's gone. Oh well.
  • Dick LeBeau looks like Judge Chamberlain Haller from My Cousin Vinny.
  • Pitt's sideline receivers got behind the corners and were open for most of the game yesterday. I think a lot of that was the result of the safeties having to cheat up and in to compensate for poor coverage by the linebacking corps and weak run support. Get healthy, Talib.
  • That drive before halftime was a thing of pure beauty. The offense was clicking, Tommy B had time, receivers were getting separation, the run blocking was there, and it ended with a touchdown. This is just a different offense with Gronk in there.
  • I never thought I'd say this...but Phil Simms called a good game yesterday. Numerous times I would jot something down, and Simms would almost immediately follow with a similar statement. Either he's getting smarter or I'm getting dumber.
  • Oh good, Nink is hurt. I was getting worried that Rich Hill wouldn't have anything to write about this week. Early reports are that it isn't serious, but the way this season is going, you never know.
  • "A 20 yard touchdown on a 3rd and 11 play." We hear that way more than I'd like.
  • I'm hoping that last week's game against Miami represents New England getting back to successfully making halftime adjustments. Up until the Dolphins, the Patriots haven't really been doing that great a job with their halftime adjustments this season. Pittsburgh came out at halftime and seemed to have figured the Patriots out, which worried me a bit, but New England ultimately took complete control of the game.
  • When was the last time a player who was "questionable to return" actually returned to a game?
  • Gregory too? Why????
  • Does anyone else find the way that Phil Simms says the word "him" really annoying? He completely ignores the H in the word and simply adds an "eem" to whatever word precedes it. "It's very hard to tackleeem, so if you wanteem to make a play, all you have to do is giveem the ball."
  • Aaron Dobson is really starting to get the hang of that back shoulder throw.
  • One thing Ridley doesn't do well is turn the corner with a second burst. Yet, for some reason, Ridley seems to enjoy bouncing to the outside.
  • Do you think Tommy B knows that "Bradying" is a thing and every once in a while he sits on the ground with his head down just to keep the legend alive?
  • Speaking of out, fantasy world. The Shane Train is poised to make a serious playoff run, courtesy of Stevan Ridley.
  • What I'm liking most about Ridley's running as of late (when he keeps his gap assignments, that is) is how low he's getting on his last three or four yards. Once he hits the second level, he makes one cut, and then goes as hard as he can until he's about to make contact, at which points he gets down and grinds it out.
  • 41-24 looks like a much bigger lead than it actually is.
  • Emmanuel Sanders is going to look very good in a Patriots uniform in 2014.
  • Maria Menounos looks very good in a Patriots jersey all the time.
  • Seriously...ALL THE TIME.
  • Why was Brandon Spikes in coverage on anybody Cotchery?
  • Marcus Cannon had his best game as a Patriot yesterday; he was leading the way on the majority of runs over five yards. He also should have gotten credit for a touchdown, as he pretty much picked up LaGarrette Blount and threw him into the end zone for New England's last score.
  • When I saw that that long ball to ice the game was to Aaron Dobson,I'll fully admit that the first thing that came to my mind was "I swear to God AD if this ball bounces off your face again..."
  • Andre Carter with the sack...welcome home, my man.
  • It has been so long since New England had the game well in hand with more than five minutes, I didn't know what to do with myself for the last part of the 4th quarter. It's nice to finish out a game sitting down for once instead of pacing around my room like an expectant father.
  • I actually really like Mike Tomlin; he's one of the better coaches in the league and he's an extremely smart guy. That said: will a bench full of dejected Steelers ever get old?
There's no way around it: this was a great win. It would be very easy for me to rain on the parade here today and talk about the latest rash of injuries or New England's ability to stop the run or how vulnerable they are in the middle of the field or how against a better team our coverage linebackers are going to be a real problem, but there will be plenty of time for all that. The bottom line is that we're 7-2, right in the running for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, and about to enjoy a long overdue and much needed bye week. We'll be seeing some guys back when New England takes the field next, the guys who are playing hurt will have a lot of time to get healthy, and the team will be in great shape for a strong final push. And let's be honest here: we could all use a bye week as well. This has been quite the season so far, and I know that I for one am really looking forward to a Sunday off.

Oh, and let's not forget - we all get an extra hour of sleep for the next few days. Boo ya.