The next stop on the Stairway to Seven has the Steelers visiting the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, Sunday evening.
The Steelers haven’t faced the Pats in this game since the 2004 season when the Pats handed Big Ben the first loss of his professional career. Brady and Bellichick are 9-2 together vs. the Steelers and it’s time for the black and gold to get past their issues beating the Pats. It won’t be easy but if the Steelers play their brand of football, they can beat New England and advance to Houston to play in the Super Bowl.
Here are the Keys to A Steelers Victory
- The Steelers defense has to pressure Tom Brady. Houston did it last week and gave Brady fits. It’s the way the Broncos won this very game against the Pats last season and really the only way you have a chance to get Brady off of his game.
- LeVeon Bell has to be given the ball 30 times. The Pats have not allowed a 100 yard rusher all season long. Bell is going to have to be the first. If he can rattle off some of those long runs he’s capable of, the Steelers will control the clock and with it they’ll keep Brady off the field.
- Big Ben has to play at the high level he’s known for. He’s struggled some on the road this season and he can’t have that issue this week, he must step up and deliver a solid performance. The team can’t settle on field goals this week.
- Mike Tomlin needs to make smart decisions and not let Bill Bellichick out smart him. This is a huge game and Tomlin has been here twice before, winning both, he needs to rely on that experience to get him through this battle on Sunday.
Here are a Few Things to Watch:
- The Antonio Brown Distraction-Is it truly a distraction and will the team be past it come game time?
- James Harrison-He continues to shine in these playoffs and I look for him to be a guy who’s going to get some serious pressure on Brady.
- Antonio Brown-Now that he messed up with his post, how will he respond to everything? Will he put too much pressure on himself and bust or will he step up to the challenge?
- Big Ben-He and Julian Edelman have exchanged a few words this week, how will he perform in his fifth trip to the AFC Title Game?
Mike Pelaia hosts the website Steel Nation Association http://www.steelnationassociation.com– Covering the Steelers and helping Children’s Hospital All Day Everyday. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.