For years, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots have been the thorn in the paw of the lion known as the Pittsburgh Steelers. No matter how great the Steelers defense was at the time, Tom Brady always found a way to destroy the Black and Gold, and send Steelers Nation home on the losing end of the stick.
Prior to the game between the Steelers and Patriots, the comments on Steelers message boards, and many of the comments from Patriots fans sounded very familiar. Tom Brady would again find a way to pick the Steelers apart and once again send the Steelers wondering "how."
But, on a beautiful Sunday in Pittsburgh, all of that changed.
Dick LeBeau, one of the most amazing defensive coordinators that has ever graced and NFL sideline, has finally done what everyone thought would be impossible.
Figure out the Patriots.
The Patriots entered their game against the Steelers with the top-rated passing offense in the NFL. Brady was set to destroy the record for most yards in a season that is currently held by Dan Marino. With another game against the Steelers, Brady was probably thinking that he was going to have another 350-yard passing day, bringing him that much closer to Marino.
The Steelers came out with a defensive game plan that no one could have possibly imagined.
Instead of keeping Ike Taylor on the outside to prevent the deep passes every time Wes Welker lined up in the slot, Taylor moved inside to cover him. Even when Welker did make a catch, he was immediately taken down by the Steelers defense, and not given many yards after catch.
Did the Steelers expose the Patriots offense?
Welker finished the game with six receptions for 39 yards.
The other change the Steelers made, was not allowing the receivers to have a 7-12 yard window from the line of scrimmage. Instead, the Steelers defenders were playing tight on the wideouts, bumping them at the line, and not giving them a free release.
This caused their timing with Brady to be off, and it would keep the Patriots out of rhythm for most of the game.
The Steelers also showed that they were still able to bring defensive pressure even without Troy Polamalu blitzing as often as he has in the past. They still brought him into the "box" to make Brady think he was blitzing even when he wasn't.
LaMarr Woodley again showed why the Steelers made the right decision by re-signing him in the offseason, sacking Brady twice and putting a great deal of pressure on the QB throughout the game.
Until he hurt his hamstring. On an injury note, Woodley sent a facebook message that reads, " Thx 4 all the concern... ill b ready 4 the big 1 next sun nite vs the ravens...already focused 100% on it!!!"
Woodley also set a franchise record for his third consecutive game with at least two sacks. He has had four games with at least 1.5 sacks.
The defense of the Steelers showed that they are back, and they are for real.
With the NFL being a "copycat" league, you can be sure that other teams in the NFL will watch what Dick LeBeau and the Steelers did to Tom Brady and the Patriots on Sunday. If they are able to do to the Pats what the Steelers did, then the end to the New England Patriots could be closer than anyone really thought.