There is no way around it. The Steelers dominated on offense and were able to limit Tom Brady on defense. It appears that simple formula is the key to success against the Patriots.
Coming into Sunday's game, Tom Brady was in the running for the MVP award once again. While he isn't on the record-shattering pace he was on, he is still putting together a fantastic season.
It is clear that he is what makes the wheels turn on New England's offense and without him they would be struggling mightily to put up points.
While Brady is still in the running for MVP, what may cost him the award in the end will not be his own performance.
It will be his defense.
The Patriots defense, especially their secondary, is one of the worst in the league. They are statistically awful in just about every defensive category.
However, the real issue comes down to one stat in particular.
Time of possession.
If you are a Patriots fan then you know how frustrating it is to feel like your defense is constantly on the field. Well, that is because they are.
New England is 29th in the league in time of possession per game. The three teams with a lower time of possession per game have a combined record of 6-16. This goes to show just how crucial it is to control the ball.
Who Will Win the MVP Award?
This is where it all turns around on Tom Brady.
Brady and the Patriots offense are under pressure to make the most of every single possession they have. They are well aware that if they don't get points on a possession it is likely that it will cost them dearly.
Looking at Sunday's game versus the Steelers is a great example. Pittsburgh had five drives that lasted over five minutes including two that were over seven minutes.
New England had zero. Their longest drive of the game was four and a half minutes that resulted in nine plays for only 18 yards.
Now I understand that part of this falls on Tom Brady and the offense. The Steelers defense did do an excellent job in shutting him down with the tight man coverage they played. However, this trend has formed over the entire season even against teams the Patriots have had offensive success against.
Would they have beaten Buffalo if they had more possessions?
All of these questions will be left unanswered. Brady and the offense need to be responsible for sustaining longer drives. This will come with getting back to those quick passes and pounding the ball with the slew of running backs the Patriots have in their backfield.
Even so, the defense is going to need to step up. They need to get opposing offenses off the field and get the ball in the hands of the best player on their team.
This is obviously much easier said than done.
Right now the Patriots secondary may not only cost Tom Brady a shot at the MVP award, but it may cost the Patriots a serious chance at the Super Bowl.