PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) – Stop this insanity. Please, I beg you.

Stop with this whole, “No matter what the Steelers did, they weren’t going to beat the Patriots anyway because New England was so well coached and Tom Brady played so well” nonsense.

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It’s grating, infuriating and exasperating.

And you know what, when a team loses, it doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition that some are trying to make it out to be.

Was New England really good in the AFC title game as they routed the Steelers? Sure.

Was Brady superb as he found what seemed like 100 open receivers and played about as comfortable a game as a quarterback could imagine? Yes.

But this wasn’t all about what the New England Patriots did right. Spare me.

The Steelers’ season is over and players are cleaning out their lockers on the South Side just as much because of what they — and their coaches — failed to do in Foxborough as much, or maybe even more than it is, because of brilliant play of the Patriots.

Some will swear up and down Brady was flawless in the win. I will offer this counterpoint: He sure was — and it was because of defensive coordinator Keith Butler’s hubris and his mind-numbing scheme. Butler’s defense never made Brady throw into a tight window, so often allowing Brady to make it look like a game of free-and-easy catch in a Bradenton outfield because of Butler’s ridiculous insistence of playing a soft zone and only rushing three men.

So, was this Brady being oh-so good or the Steelers doing something suicidal to aid greatly in their own demise? I’ll lean toward more of the latter. Taking nothing away from Brady’s performance against the Steelers, Butler’s gameplan was plainly pathetic and inexcusable. Butler’s gameplan allowed Brady to be Brady.

How many times did Butler watch Steelers teams of the past get carved up by Brady as they sat in a soft zone? Why in the world did he think — seemingly out of nowhere — that such a tactic would randomly work this time?

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Even if the outcome would have been the same, it feels like many Steelers fans would have at least felt better had Butler employed a go-get-em defense wherein he would have brought some pressure and tried to knock Brady around.

There is a mirror on the offensive side of the ball for the Steelers, as many are talking about the Patriots’ defensive effort and also how Le’Veon Bell was injured.
Me? I say nonsense. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley had a chance near the end of the first half to use his heavy package and punch the ball into the end zone from the one-foot line, but instead went backward.

Why? Perhaps we will never know why fullback Rosie Nix wasn’t inserted or why quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn’t simply try to sneak it in behind center. What we do know is this: Football is built on leverage and behind an offensive line that is said to be a pretty darn good one, Haley lived in his fears and went to a single-back backfield, leaving his team out-flanked and DeAngelo Williams all alone out there to get swallowed up.

It simply made zero sense. None.

That was just as much the Steelers screwing up their personnel as it was any Patriots player making a play.

So when they recount the story of the Pittsburgh Steelers losing to the New England Patriots in this AFC Championship Game, you will hear some drone on about how Brady’s Bunch was just better that day.

Maybe. I say no way.

If you don’t think the Steelers gave them a whole lot of help winning that football game, you and I were watching two different contests.

Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at colin.dunlap@cbsradio.com. Check out his bio here.

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