By Wanda Wiedman // @WandaW63
Steelers 17 – Patriots 10
The New England Patriots have won five Super Bowl championships, so it’s bound to happen that the once supreme dynasty may eventually topple.
The loss to the Miami Dolphins Miracle last week could have been an anomaly. Apparently, it wasn’t as the Patriots lose a week later to the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road 17-10.
Rumors swirled in the off-season that quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski would be retiring. Even head Coach Bill Belichick was on the rumor mill when offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels reneged on the head coaching job in Indianapolis to stay in New England.
There are obvious problems ravaging the Patriots as they enter Week 16 with a 9-5 record. It starts with Mr. Brady.
I know you are thinking, wait shouldn’t it start with the coaching? You would think so, but the decline has been obvious in the way the game is being played. Brady’s performance as of late has not been stellar.
Don’t forget he has been known to change plays and audible when he doesn’t like a certain play. But lately, Brady has missed several key throws, keeping the ball instead of throwing it away, or throws it away in coverage as he did yesterday to the waiting arms of Steelers cornerback Joe Haden.
Then there is Gronkowski, who is a shell of himself this season. The toll his body has taken in hits is off the charts. He can no longer run. Last week against the Dolphins, he tried running a few yards and it looked like he was wearing cement boots. That’s the sign of an athlete whose knees no longer have the strength to carry him as they were made to do.
Let’s also not forget the back problems he has and the constant pain from it. The hit he took in the Miami game bent his back awkward. I would be shocked if he were not playing solely on pain medication yesterday.
It also doesn’t help that the receiving corps has been dropping passes at every turn. Josh Gordon, Julian Edelman, and Chris Hogan all dropped numerous passes against the Steelers. It was like there was no chemistry. Brady completed 25 of his 36 passes, for 279 yards and just one TD. Gordon had one reception for 19 yards and Gronkowski had two for 21 yards.
And it seems that the defense had no answers on how to stop the Steelers run as rookie running back Jaylen Samuels had himself a day with 19 carries and 149 yards. Despite the fact that the Patriots defense had two interceptions off of Steelers signal caller Ben Roethlisberger, they just couldn’t capitalize as a team to walk away with a win.
Patriots face the Buffalo Bills at home, followed by their final game against the New York Jets. Will the Pats keep their winning streak against the Bills? Or will the Bills take a win on the road against their mighty foe?
If Patriots don’t make it in the postseason, this may very well be the end of the Brady-Belichick era.
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