Monday, November 15, 2010
Patriots 39, Steelers 26
By Mike Batista
When Tom Brady sets foot in Heinz Field, the Steelers turn into Kenny from "South Park" or Georgie from "The Sopranos."
Sunday's 39-26 loss to the Patriots followed the same plot line, to the letter, as the Steelers' 41-27 loss to the Patriots in the 2004 AFC championship game at Heinz.
Not only were the scores almost identical, but in both games, it was clear the Patriots had the Steelers figured out early. In both games, the Steelers fell behind by three touchdowns. In both games, the Steelers made it mildly interesting, getting as close as 11 points in the second half.
Steelers fans had seen this show before. When the Steelers mounted their futile comeback attempt Sunday night, the sea of yellow seats at Heinz Field were speckled by the foolish few who thought they had a chance.
It was the same predictable television as Kenny dying in every "South Park" episode or Georgie getting bludgeoned with a phone receiver every time he rubs Tony the wrong way on "The Sopranos."
Only once have the Steelers beaten Brady, when they ended the Patriots' 21-game winning streak in 2004. But even then Brady, the Hoodie and his henchmen had the last laugh when they went back to Pittsburgh and won the AFC championship game that season.
The Steelers beat the Patriots at Gillette Stadium during their 2008 championship season, but those Patriots were quarterbacked by bed wetter Matt Cassel.
The last decade, which has included two Super Bowl wins, certainly has been a glorious one in the history of Steelers football. However, the fondness of this era will be tempered somewhat by their inability to beat Brady.
One of the main reasons Brady has been impervious to the Steelers' feared defense is his quick, short-range passes, which neutralize the Steelers' blitz and serve the same purpose as running the football. That's exactly how he carved up the Steelers' defense in 2007 during the Patriots' perfect regular season.
The Brady who beat the Steelers Sunday is a lot different from the one who beat them in 2007. Brady now sports long, romance-novel hair. That new look, combined with the drama he displayed when he screamed at his teammates after a failed third-down conversion in the first half, make it clear that he's auditioning to be either a model or an actor after football. He knows where the cameras are.
Despite the fact that he's as much of a pretty boy as ever, Brady out-toughed the entire Steelers' defense in the third quarter by plowing through for a 3-yard touchdown run, giving the Patriots a 23-3 lead and officially making the game a bitchslapping.
If Brady's life after football involves walking on the red carpet, he got a lot of practice Sunday night, because the Steelers defense only got close enough to take pictures of him. They didn't sack him and barely even touched him.
Sure, the Steelers might get another shot at Brady. But from what I've seen over the past few weeks, I have my doubts whether they will this season.
Not only did the Steelers (6-3) suffer their most lopsided loss at Heinz Field since Mike Tomlin became coach in 2007, but they haven't won impressively since beating the Browns 28-10 nearly a month ago. Since then they got a favorable replay review to beat the duller-than-dogshit Dolphins by a point; lost to the Saints and nearly blew a 20-point lead to the Bengals. And let's face it, the Bengals flat-out suck.
The Steelers' win over the Browns seems like a long time ago. Are they still better than the Browns? For the second time in three weeks, the Steelers lost to a team the Browns kicked the shit out of the week before. The Steelers once again couldn't pick up the chick their roommate banged.
Now historically, failing their BBT (Beat Brady Test) doesn't mean the Steelers can't win the Super Bowl. They recovered from an early-season, 23-20 loss to the Patriots to win the Super Bowl in 2005. But it took a last-minute drive in that game to set up Adam Vinatieri's winning field goal.
If the Steelers want to show that they're good enough to win a championship, they have to at least stand up to Brady. They didn't do that Sunday.