By Hal Bent
The New England Patriots kick-off the second half of their 2013 NFL season with a matchup against the AFC North Pittsburgh Steelers. Despite the Steelers sitting at 2-5 and in last place this season, the Patriots never take the Steelers lightly. Despite having only two wins, the Steelers still have quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and explosive wide receivers Antonio Brown and Patriots’ offseason target as a restricted free agent, Emmanuel Sanders. With tight end Heath Miller, who has given the Patriots defense fits when they had Pro Bowl linebacker Jerod Mayo healthy in the past, and former New York Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, the banged-up Patriots defense will have their hands full.
The Steelers have won two of three after starting 0-4. Despite the losses, Pittsburgh was never blown out, losing by a touchdown to Tennessee and Minnesota, and by ten to Cincinnati. Chicago beat Pittsburgh by 17, but the Steelers actually had a great offensive game as Roethlisberger threw for over 400 yards and nearly 200 went to wide receiver Antonio Brown. After beating the Jets and the Ravens, the Steelers fell last week to Oakland. For sure, the Steelers won’t have to defend any 93 yard runs from the quarterback this week.
The Patriots will have to play their best football like in the second half against Miami last week (wrap-up and analysis of that game is here) against the Steelers to keep their incredible home record at home after Halloween (since 2002) an NFL best .803 winning percentage and 49 wins against only 12 losses. After allowing over 100 yards rushing in the first half to a struggling Dolphins rushing offense, the Patriots clamped down in the second half and put additional defenders in the backfield to stop the run and slow the passing game. After not getting near Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the first half, the Patriots defense notched a total of six sacks in the second half.
The Patriots defense was thinned last week with superb cornerback Aqib Talib sidelined again with a hip injury. During the game, New England lost cornerback Kyle Arrington with a groin injury. On Wednesday at practice, the Patriots had all players at practice, although Arrington and Talib were limited. With the return to health of the secondary regulars, the Patriots are in better shape to try to slow down the Steelers potent passing attack.
Of course, although the Steelers have not run the ball well in 2013, the Steelers have traditionally wanted to run the ball early and often...CLICK HERE FOR MUCH MORE: http://cover32.com/patriots/2013/10/31/patriots-face-another-hungry-team-in-matchup-vs-steelers/