I’m sorry, but I’m not at all being biased to our site when I say I LOVE this line: “Newsflash: Steelers, No.1 Defense Buy the Run Against Pass-Heavy Pats!”
I love it because it is so funny. And it is so funny because it is so true –– the Steelers biting on the fake half of a Patriots play-action pass in a game where the Patriots ran the ball 9 times, one of which I think was a Tom Brady scramble. Normally you have to try to establish a running game to employ successful run fakes. Later in the game, the passing game just seemed to toy with the Steelers defense [see video below].
I even think that I can hear Pittsburgh safety Anthony Smith choking on his words while the video is rolling.
Maybe there’s some advanced psychological theorem at work here (I’d never know because I’ve never taken a psychology class) concerned with some Law of Diminishing Averages Yields Increasing Anticipation. I don’t know. But what I do know is this: the Patriots do not run the ball with any dedication –– they do not have to –– and they are incredibly successful regardless.
It’s incredible. The Patriots run their offense with an unabashed disregard for a semblance of balanced play-calling that it’s hard to comprehend how they reached their lonely strata of success.
After injuries riddled their corps of runners in the first half of the season, the one constant was Brady and his pass-catchers. Over the course of the season, though, it’s evolved into a pass first, pass second and probably pass third mentality.
They know what they’re going to do, the fans know what they’re going to do and, most importantly, opposing defenses know what they’re going to do. They are going to pass the ball whether anyone likes it or not.
The kicker? It works without fail. The Steelers defense is proof enough –– New England threw for 399 yards and ran for 22.
I’ve never seen an NFL team be so successful and so perfectly unbalanced. I know we’re in the Spread Age, but this is something different entirely. This isn’t Pat White and Steve Slaton running a spread-option attack or even Colt Brennan throwing to the entire state of Hawaii. This is a pro team that DOES NOT NEED TO RUN.
The thing is, no one has stopped them yet. There have been a few close calls, but the scheme continues to work. I’m quite sure even with a 12th man on defense, it would not make a difference against the New York Jets this week.