Steelers will make the Patriots’ defense pick its poison. But Pats can stomach it all.
It might not have been evident in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional game on Sunday, but Mike Tomlin has an offense capable of scoring touchdowns. The trio of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell provide a wide array of talent that can beat teams through the air and on the ground, with Bell breaking the record for most rushing yards by a player in his first two career postseason games (337) by 52 yards.
“Yeah, they’re really good. They’re a tremendous offense,” New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick told reporters during his conference call on Monday. “Kansas City was able to make some plays in the red-area, but I mean they could’ve easily been up in the 40s last night. They do a lot of things well; can run it, can throw it. [Antonio] Brown’s the main guy, but all of the receivers, tight ends, backs, I mean they’re all a problem. [Ben] Roethlisberger is really good, can make all of the throws. It looks like his mobility is good. They’re doing a great job. They’re a good offense.”
That leaves Belichick, whose defensive philosophy hinges on taking away the single best thing an opposing offense does, in a pickle. Does he try to stop Bell, and risk opening up a passing game that led the league with the most touchdown passes of 20 or more yards (13), or does he take away the passing game and let Bell, who averaged 4.9 yards per carry this season, and close to three yards per carry after contact (2.8), run amok?
If history is any guide, look for the Patriots to stop the pass and take their chances with Bell on the ground.
When Belichick was the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants in 1990, he told his players “We’re going to let Thurman Thomas get 100 yards,” in Super Bowl XXV. The strategy worked. Thomas had 135 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, but Jim…