Pats’ Defense Switches Gears, Brings DB Heat
Coming into Sunday, the Patriots had sent secondary pass rushers on only 7.2 percent of the total dropbacks against them this season. However, the Patriots sent secondary pressure on 27.3 percent of Ben Roethlisberger’s dropbacks Sunday, their highest percentage of the season. New England blitzed one or more defensive backs on 15 of Roethlisberger’s 55 dropbacks, more than their next three highest single-game totals combined (14).
Big Day for Gronk
A week after Patriots rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski fumbled on the goal line in the Patriot’s loss to the Browns, Gronkowski posted his best game as a professional. With Aaron Hernandez and Alge Crumpler combining for 1 catch and 4 yards, it was Gronkowski who did major damage out of 2-tight end formations.
New England Keeps Big Ben on the Move
Pittsburgh’s offensive line had major issues keeping New England’s pass rushers out of the backfield, leading to Ben Roethlisberger accumulating a season-high 14 attempts outside the pocket Sunday at Heinz Field. No other quarterback had attempted more than 11 passes outside the pocket this season.
Conservative Steelers’ Defense Picked Apart
The Steelers sent 4 or fewer pass rushers after Tom Brady on 76.7 percent of his total attempts on Sunday. The Steelers were more conservative than their 71.2 percent season average, but their inability to pressure Brady with a standard four-man rush gave the Patriots quarterback too much time.
-- compiled by John Parolin and Trevor Ebaugh