As a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, watching the game between the New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars was like slowly bleeding to death.
Despite the Jags having a ten point lead in the fourth quarter, I’m not sure anyone really thought the Jags would win. The Patriots were stopping the run and making Blake Bortles beat them. And as the pressure ratcheted up, the Patriots had all the energy and the Jags seemed to need heroic plays just to get a first down. Bortles did not turn the ball over and played well for the most part, but the Jaguars offense seemed to lose confidence with every series in the second half. If you can’t run, play action begins to lose its power. Ending up in third and long is a recipe for trouble.
Sure enough, Tom Brady led a comeback; scoring 14 unanswered points. After recovering a fumble on a great defensive play, Jacksonville managed two first downs, three punts and turned it over on downs. When the Pats got a first down on the subsequent series it was over.
The depressing thing is that this is just what Tom Brady and the Patriots are and what they do. They relentlessly come at you until you crack under the pressure. Even without Rob Gronkowski in the second half, Brady found open receivers and converted third downs. The defense made the necessary plays with the game on the line.
The contrast with the Steelers couldn’t have been greater. Sure, the Steelers offense looked better but the Patriots gave up 6 points after halftime. The Steelers gave up 17 points in the fourth quarter. The Steelers never really pressured Bortles all game. The Pats sacked him three times and pressured him consistently in the fourth quarter. As if this wasn’t depressing enough, James Harrison had a strip sack. Think the Steelers could have used that?
I am not even going to get into the Brady QB sneak on third and one.
The cartoon above sums up my feelings about football. It is not enough that the Steelers succeed, the Patriots must also fail. But there is once again faint hope of that happening. They are one game away from equaling the Steelers’ six Super Bowl victories and will be facing a team with a untested QB (or at least one who has never played in a Super Bowl). Brady has been to half the Super Bowls (8) of his career (16 years).
Depressing. Consistent, repetitive and depressing.