TALE OF THE TAPE

Tale Of The Tape: Pittsburgh Steelers At New England Patriots

Pittsburgh Steelers
New England Patriots
(credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Quarterback
The Steelers were ill-prepared to take on the Oakland Raiders in Week Eight and no matter what was said after the game, they were looking ahead to this game against the Patriots and it cost them in a big way. Ben Roethlisberger is healthy right now, and that’s a big change from past years but he is not getting the kind of protection he needs.
Winner While Tom Brady does not have the receivers he has had in the past, that’s not the only reason the quarterback has been off this year. He is playing with swelling in his right hand and his passes have lacked accuracy. Brady won’t use that as an excuse and he shouldn’t. He merely needs to take what opposing defenses are giving him, something he did regularly in the past.
Offense
The Steelers were hoping they would get a hard-edged running back when they selected Le’Veon Bell last spring. While it’s too early to write him off, Bell’s 3.3 yards per carry average has not given the Steelers the ground game they need. Antonio Brown is proving to be a solid target who will catch nearly anything he can touch. Heath Miller is still a solid tight end.
Winner The Patriots’ running backs demonstrated fumbling problems earlier in the year, but it appears those issues have been solved. Stevan Ridley, LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden form a solid combination for Brady. Tight end Rob Gronkowski is getting closer to top form, while Danny Amendola will try to stay healthy so he can make a few plays on the outside.
Defense
Winner The Steelers appear to have gotten it back together defensively since they rank fourth in overall defense, and that makes their Week Eight loss to the Raiders that much more galling. Inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons is having a solid year and he leads the team with 59 tackles and he also has five passes defensed. Outside linebacker has a team-high 5.0 sacks.
The Patriots had a solid defense earlier in the year, but that unit has been ripped apart by injuries to Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo and Aqib Talib. While Wilfork and Mayo are done for the year, Talib could return from his hip injury this week. Defensive end Chandler Jones has a team-high 6.5 sacks, while defensive tackle Chris Jones is right behind with 4.5 sacks.
Special Teams
The Steelers appear to be playing fast and loose with their return teams. They haven’t given up any touchdown returns, but they appear to be on the verge of giving up a damaging return every week. Placekicker Shaun Suisham has been shockingly effective, making 15-of-17 FG attempts.
Winner The Patriots are not taking their special teams for granted. They regularly do an excellent job in coverage and Julian Edelman is a threat to flip field position on punt returns nearly every time he touches the ball. Stephen Gostkowski has made 20-of-21 FG attempts and may be the best kicker in the league.

The Winner Is

(credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Winner New England Patriots
3 out of 4

The Patriots are not about to feel sorry for the Steelers and allow them to come into Foxboro and steal a win. However, if Brady can’t improve his accuracy, New England could be vulnerable.
-Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: (FILES)This undated file photo shows US baseball star Jackie Robinson as he signs a then-record contract to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers in New York. Robinson has been chosen to receive posthumously the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award Congress can bestow on a US civilian, 02 March 2005, for his accomplishments on the baseball diamond, as well as "his lifetime of breaking down barriers and his unending fight for justice," officials on Capitol Hill said in an earlier press release. US Senator John Kerry and US Representative Richard Neal, who co-sponsored legislation honoring Robinson, will be joined by the ballplayer's widow Rachel Robinson, US President George W. Bush and congressional leaders at the ceremony. Robinson broke baseball's "color line", becoming the first African American to play in the Major Leagues when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Officials in Congress said however that he is also being honored for his contributions to the broader struggle for civil rights. (Photo Credit: Mike Powell/Getty Images)
    Best Two-Sport Athletes Of All Time

    With Tim Tebow getting a baseball deal, Starkey and Mueller drafted the best two-sport athletes of all time.

  2. OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons signals to his team during their NFL game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 18, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 18:  Quarterback  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints hands off to Mark Ingram #22 during the first quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on September 18, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
    Week 3 Tale Of The Tape: Atlanta Falcons At New Orleans Saints

    The NFC South rivals meet in the Big Easy with Brees and company looking for their first win.

  3. CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 19: Danny Trevathan #59 and Akiem Hicks #96 of the Chicago Bears
stop Ryan Mathews #24 of the Philadelphia Eagles
at Soldier Field on September 19, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Eagels defeated the Bears 29-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates with teammates center Travis Frederick #72 and offensive guard La\'el Collins #71 after scoring a third quarter touchdown against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on September 18, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Week 3 Tale Of The Tape: Chicago Bears At Dallas Cowboys

    The Cowboys rookies have looked good the first two weeks, now they get the winless and injury plagued Bears at home.

See All Tales of the Tape

More From CBS Pittsburgh

Bringing You The Best in Sports Talk Radio
New Podcast Network
Learn How

Listen Live