Those are the guys that I know and love. Welcome home gentlemen. With regard to my long-winded thoughts, I have to admit that a birthday party distract my usual laser-like focus on the game, so this may be a little discumbobulated. Feel free to correct any errors. * Pitt has Brady to thank for that game even being close at halftime. I am sure that he would agree with me that he had a C-/D+ performance in the first half. I'll highlight NE's very first drive to illustrate. Play #1 - Pitt gets good pressure and collpases the pocket. Brady is forced to dump it off to Faulk but without a good lane Kevin has to make a shoestring catch. A better throw - one that Brady typically makes despite similar pressure - and Faulk probably gets 3-4 more yards than the 4 he actually got. This was the only play that Pitt forced the mistake. Play #2 - Brady with plenty of time has Welker open up the seam and throws it behind him. Play #3 - Again, Brady has time. It appears that the coverage is decent, but Brady underthows Stallworth who would have had the first down with a decent throw. Again, there was nothing about the defensive performance on this play that Brady didn't shred in the second half. Add in a couple other sideline overthrows and an overthrow of Welker (who should have caught it anyway) when he was open for a solid 20 yard gain on a crossing route and you have a mediocre performance for Tommy in the first half. Good thing he was decidedly better than "mediocre" in the second. * Just one week off on my flea-flicker prediction, dammit! I knew that NE had something in the works for these defenses. * On that play, I was a little disappointed that the safety was allowed to get back into postion until I saw who it was. Getting completely toasted and then just missing an incredible breakup only to have a dramatic TD scored in your face seemed just right to me. * Someone said that Bruschi missed the goal-line stuff, but I would have sworn that he was the one who stoned the lead blocking guard. I thought it was one of the best plays of the game, frankly. If it wasn't, could someone let me know who it was, please? * It seemed to clear up later in the game, but was I alone in seeing that Vrabel was being held on the majority of Pitt's passing plays on their first couple drives? In particular, on the 3rd down red zone thowaway, it was pretty blatant and even ended with the OT grabbing his facemask and pulling him into the turf. * I think that I have isolated the biggest issue with AD. I keyed in on him on a few plays and it seems to me that he has real issues with changes in direction. Get him a straight line to the target and he is awesome, but if the QB slides forward or the OT rides him just outside enough, he has a hard time recovering and getting back into the play. By comparison, Vrabel is excellent at this and that is one of his greatest attributes as a pass rusher. Hopefully this is a correctible area. * For all the gnashing of teeth about Maroney, I have to say that he is excellent at selling the play-fake. Time and time again, I see teams being completely fooled leaving them open to deep throws. For some reason, teams still feel the need to focus on Laurence when he is in there. It almost seems as if NE is purposely keeping his plays one dimentional for just this reason. * Oddly enough, despite the above statement, Pitt really didn't bite that hard on Maroney's playaction on the long Moss TD. Only one ILB moved towards him and it looked like he had coverage responsibilities anyway. The safeties just let Moss go right by them. * Was it me, or was NE in nickle for most of the second half? Is that how they are going to keep the LBs fresh because they really don't seem to be using anyone but the big 4? * I was disappointed somewhat in NE's run defense. From what I could tell, Pitt targeted the gap between the DE's and OLBs (C gap I think?) with excellent success. The most disappointing run was the Parker ~35 scamper after Moss' second TD. A stop there and NE has the chance to put the game away early. That run was through that gap on Warren's side, but Pitt ran mostly between Seymour and Thomas with very good success. IIRC, Thomas actually did a decent job of holding his ground, but Seymour was consistenly moved out of the way with a single blocker. * Indy needs to send NE a giant gift basket for getting the completely deflated Baltimore team they faced. Admittedly, Indy was flying aroung and they played a great game. Baltimore seems to have matchup issues with Indy's speed that NE's size didn't quite bring to the table. So Indy deserves a ton of credit. But by the same token, that was not the same team that we saw last week. They had no fire at all on either side of the ball and Boller reverted back to being one of the worst QBs in the league. My God was he terrible yesterday. Even his completions looked bad. How did he look competent last week again? BTW, Indy should also be sending baskets to NE for another reason. How often does an 11-2 championship team that lost its two games by 6 combined points face a team that just doesn't care? In any other season, Indy would be the team that teams get fired up for, but NE has just overshadowed this entire season. I just find it amazing that a team that won it all last year and got markedly better seems to fly under the radar.