By: Russ Goldman
Each week I am hoping to bring a view of the upcoming game from a writer who covers the Patriots opposition, and this week we have Gerry Dulac , who is a Steelers beat writer for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
Gerry was nice enough to take some time to answer my questions about Sunday’s game, and it’s always interesting to get some insight from someone who covers the opposing team on a daily basis.
Here are my “Five Questions About The Upcoming Steelers Game with Gerry Dulac Of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.”
Do you think the Steelers see the Patriots as part of a rivalry or just another game?
I think most of the players, who weren’t around for the disappointing AFC title game losses in 2001 and 2004, view it as just another game against a quality team. I don’t think many of the current players have much knowledge, let alone feelings, for a team I think has presented an emotional hurdle for the franchise.
Since his return Ben Roethlisberger seems to be settling back into the offense. Do you think the Steelers are still a run first unit, or would you say that they still rely on his arm to win football games?
For now, I think they have continued to play like they did when he was on suspension, for the most part. But I don’t think there is any question that in some key circumstances they have relied on him to make a play, rather than trying to create a play with another player. That being said, I think they went for the kill against Cincy when it was 27-7 because of Roethlisberger. They wouldn’t have done that if he wasn’t the quarterback. They would have played more conservative and protected the lead.
For the Patriots defending Roethlisberger, would you say keeping him in the pocket is the key?
To some extent, yes, because there probably isn’t a QB in the league who can make plays out of pocket as well as him. The Pats would be better pressuring him from the outside than up the middle. That being said, Roethlisberger is very comfortable in the pocket. If you let him stand there, forget it.
Defensively the Steelers are still one of the best in the league. However, would you consider the secondary a weakness in this unit?
It’s a weakness relative to the strength of the rest of the unit. Dick LeBeau prefers a softer coverage in the secondary because his No. 1 mantra is, don’t let the ball get behind you. His second credo is, tackle the ball and make them snap it again — i.e., if the receiver catches the ball, get him on the ground. That approach prevents a lot of big plays. The problem, though, a patient QB will keep taking what the Steelers give you, and that’s plenty of 12 to 15 yard receptions.
What is your key match-up for this game?
Brady vs S Troy Polamalu.
There’s no question the Steelers No. 1 concern will be stopping or containing Brady. Without Randy Moss and the threat of the deep ball, I expect the Steelers to drop their linebackers, not rush them, and have lots of bodies in the middle of the field to take away a lot of underneath passing lanes.
Gerry Dulac’s Prediction: Steelers 30, Patriots 24
A special thanks to Gerry for giving his time to give his thoughts on this weekend’s match-up.