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The Patriots' Pass Rush Against the Steelers

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Against the Pittsburgh Steelers the Patriots pass rush was unable to get any pressure on Landry Jones. But did they even try?

NFL: New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Observations:

  • The pass rush was very anemic against the Steelers with no sacks and few hits, leading to the question of whether the rush was even a focus during game planning.
  • On over half the plays the Patriots rushed only three. The Steelers' last drive was met entirely with a three-man rush consisting of a Sheard-Johnson-McClellin and a Long-Flowers-Ninkovich unit.
  • Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins featured heavily as pass rushers, albeit in a traditional role lined up at the line of scrimmage instead of blitzing the gaps. The Patriots only tried to blitz the A-gaps once with Elandon Roberts.
  • Jabaal Sheard and Rob Ninkovich disappointed as pass rushers. Neither was particularly effective and Sheard missed a potential sack when he couldn't get a firm grip on Steelers quarterback Landry Jones on top of that.
  • At this point in the season there are legitimate questions about the pass rush. Are the Patriots truly unable to consistently pressure the quarterback or is the coaching staff just unwilling to let the rushers loose, preferring to play it safe?
  • Against the Steelers and their backup quarterback the game plan worked, however. For most of the game Landry Jones was forced to go underneath, unable to gun it downfield.