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We've all seen our fair share of shootouts with the pass happy Colts or, more often, the Patriots. Not that it needs to be said, but we have not faired too well in those games. That said, the keys to the game are typically (1) controlling the ball/TOP and (2) pressuring the quarterback....but dare I say that I like our chances on Sunday better than ever...but not because of our ability to do (1) and/or (2) well this year....
Just a few points (because I am not sure anyone frequents or reads this board much):
1. Bell and the offensive line are as good as, and perhaps marginally better than, any run attack we've featured against the BB/TFB led Patriots. I think back to 2001/2004, with Bettis, Hartings, Faneca, and Smith, Possibly not as strong as the 2017 group, but perhaps the Patriots run defense is a bit stouter today.
2. Our pass rush the second half of the season has been dynamite. But have the Steelers really improved in this dynamic c.f. years past? I love what Tuitt, Hargrave, and Dupree have brought to the defense this year. But, it is hard to say that our pass rush is a significant improvement over that of years past (either the 2001/2004 or Woodley/Harrison versions).
3. I've been thinking long and hard about what makes this team different than each Steelers team that has folded against the Patriots before it. Our QB play? No. Receivers/TE play? We've been spoiled in years past as well. Surely not our safety or corner play. Then what? Perhaps you can make the argument that this isn't the same Patriots team...and it isn't. But I am also a big believer that BB, TFB, and cheating make that thing tick and that the other pieces really just fall into place. They will have BB, TFB, and cheating on Sunday.
So why am I and why should you be hopeful on Sunday?
Ryan Shazier. Never have we had a ILB that can move in coverage like RS. No offense met to Timmons, Farrior, or Foote (and Holmes before them). But RS's ability to move in coverage, combat the screen, and when needed rush the passer could, and hopefully will, be the difference maker know one is necessarily talking about.