What The Patriots Have To Do On Sunday

The Pittsburgh Steelers pose a number of challenges for the New England Patriots this week, from both a defensive and offensive perspective. Taking a closer look at what the Patriots need to do in order to win on Sunday, PI brings you a look from inside Pittsburgh at what areas New England must attack in order to slow down the Steelers. The analysis done represents what areas the Steelers have shown a vulnerability in that the Patriots may be able to exploit.

What The Patriots Have To Do On Sunday
An Insiders perspective from Pittsburgh
By Stillers.com staff

In order for the Pats to beat the Stillers, they must focus on 3 areas:

1. Get the running game untracked. The Patriots ground game has been sporadic and marginally productive the first 2 games. The Pats are at their best when they get a modicum of production from their ground game, enabling them to do whatever they want -- run or pass -- on 1st and 2nd downs. Last Halloween, with Corey Dillon on the sidelines due to injury, the Pats were a one-dimensional team that was engulfed by an aggressive Steeler defense. Conversely, in last year's AFC championship game, Dillon was able to grind out enough yards that the entire burden didn't fall on Brady's shoulders, er, arm. Consequently, the 1st down touchdown bomb to Deion Branch staked the Pats to the 10-0 lead, and they never looked back.

The Steelers are a blitzing defense that loves to come pell-mell with an assortment of looks and blitzes on passing downs. The blitzing Pittsburgh defense loves nothing more than to face a one-dimensional offense. To limit the ravenous Pittsburgh blitzing, the Pats must get Dillon untracked and chew both yardage and clock.

2. Jam the diminutive Pittsburgh receiving corps. Hines Ward has been his same old reliable self, but the real surprise thus far this season has been the strong downfield production by Antwaan Randle El and third receiver Cedric Wilson. However, neither opponent has regularly jammed these smallish, receivers at the line of scrimmage, which is surprising because neither El nor Wilson posses game-breaking speed. The Pats normally provide over the top deep help with their secondary, so it makes sense to knock around the smaller Steeler receivers to disrupt the timing with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

3. Limit a fast start by RB Willie Parker. The second-year running back has had a glamorous, and rather easy, first 2 weeks of the season. He's gotten off to two remarkably smooth, fast starts in each game. What New England must do is to bottle, and knock around, Parker in the early going, something Parker has yet to experience in his young NFL career. With Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis still hobbled, only Verron Haynes is readily available to tote the pigskin making Parker the main man, at least for this week. Knocking Parker in the mouth is a good way to slow him down a bit, and if Parker is slowed, this forces Roethlisberger to do much more in the passing game.


Guest appearances are arranged with analysts from other teams for the benefit of our readers. The staff at Stillers.com cover the Pittsburgh Steelers full time and graciously agreed to provide this week's "What They Have To Do..." piece in place of our other analysts who were unavailable.

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