The Steelers have advanced to the AFC Championship game to face off against the hated New England Patriots.
This is a game that before the season began; the black and gold were expected to get to. Now that they are here, they will have several challenges to overcome to advance to the Super Bowl.
First and foremost they need to get over the stigma of beating Tom Brady and Bill Bellichick. Brady and Bellichick have been the Pats version of the Killer B’s when it comes to the Steelers as they own the black and gold, boasting a 9-2 record against them, including the playoffs. Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger must find a way to overcome the odds by somehow outcoaching and outplaying the Patriots dynamic duo. It won’t be easy, especially on the coaching front but it has to be done in order to win the game.
Next, Ben Roethlisberger needs to improve upon his road performances this season. In 9 games on the road this season, including last week against the Chiefs, Big Ben has 9 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He cannot play at that mediocre level against the likes of the Patriots in order to come out of Foxborough with a ‘W’. I expect him to answer the challenge as he’s played and won some big games and is a clutch quarterback in my opinion, up to and including completing the last two passes of the game against Kansas City in high pressure circumstances, last week.
Part of Ben playing at a higher level means this team cannot rely on field goals as it did in Kansas City. If the offense can’t cross the goal line, the season will be over in a flash. They won’t be able to overcome that against the Patriots.
They’ll also need to beat the odds. Brady isn’t going to have two bad games in a row and he was pretty poor last week against Houston. Applying pressure is a must but the odds are Brady won’t put up back to back sub-par weeks; the Steelers will need to find a way to beat Brady at his best.
The black and gold will need to get past the media distraction of Antonio Browns moronic Facebook Live post last week as well. It shouldn’t be a distraction for the team until the media decides to stir the pot, then it becomes one. Thanks to the inevitable scenario of the media pushing this thing all the way through Sunday, the Steelers will have to block it out. On a side note, Brown should absolutely be fined for his lack of awareness in doing something like that; it showed nothing but arrogance, selfishness and disrespect. For those of you out there insisting it’s not a big deal, go ask Coach Tomlin what he thinks about it. Quite frankly, I was very pleased with Mike Tomlin calling out Brown in the manner he did at his press conference. At the same time, it is Coach Tomlins fault that something like that was happening in the first place, he needs to tighten that ship up to avoid such embarrassments.
The team will also need to get past this war of words between Julian Edelman and now Ben Roethlisberger. Edelman needs to keep his mouth shut and Ben needs to back his mouth up.
Beyond the above, there are other things to overcome as well such as the hostile environment, the potential weather conditions, the Steelers lack of a secondary to stop Brady and many more.
However, should the Steelers pressure Brady, stick to their game plan and maybe most importantly control the clock, they do have as good a chance as anyone to beat New England and advance to the Super Bowl. The black and gold surely don’t need bulletin board material for motivation but in case they were wondering, many Pats supporters had stated before the Steelers played the Chiefs that they would rather face Pittsburgh instead of Kansas City. Well, they got their wish and now it’s time for the Steelers to meet the challenge…