Posted by: Staff | 12.16.2008

On It With Offit: Week 12 Overview


When It Rains, It Pours

Blech! What else can I say? That was the first time the Patriots lost by more than 20 points since December of 2006. Those kind of games just leave the common fan sick to his stomach with a bad taste in his mouth when Monday morning rolls around. The Patriots were out-played, out-coached, and out-classed by the #2 ranked team in the AFC. 

Steelers' running back, Mewelde Moore(21), breaks away from Lewis Sanders (left) and Jerod Mayo (right) en route to a big run in the third quarter.

Steelers' running back, Mewelde Moore(21), breaks away from Lewis Sanders (left) and Jerod Mayo (right) en route to a big run in the third quarter.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have the number one defense in the league, and showed nothing short of that as they cooled down the hottest offense in the NFL. The Patriots started off well, when Mike Vrabel snagged a Ben Roethlisberger pass out of the air, which gave the Patriots excellent field position. Sammie Morris finished off the three play drive with a one yard touchdown run. However, after that first three minutes of the game, the fire wasn’t there. Maybe it was the rain, maybe it was the Steelers, or maybe it was the fact I wasn’t sitting in my lucky seat. Whatever it was, the Patriots lost all energy and enthusiasm for the game. Frankly, the Patriots’ offensive creativity and energy looked as flat as a pancake that had been run over by a steamroller.

The Patriots produced a frightening five turnovers- all in the second half. It started with a Matthew Slater fumble on a kick return, followed by two consecutive strip-sacks of Matt Cassel which eventually ended with two interception by the Patriots QB as well. Speaking of which, it is safe to say that Matt Cassel ended his hot streak on Sunday, throwing 19/39 with two picks and no touchdowns. Cassel accounted for a total of four turnovers and completed only 49% of his passes. However, the quarterback wasn’t the only player contributing to the offensive mediocrity. Several balls were dropped by all Patriots’ receivers; Randy Moss in particular dropped several passes that even a T-Rex could’ve caught. The Patriots offense was so immobile, it failed to produce any third down conversion without the help of a penalty(0/11). It was an all around pitiful offensive effort…I’m glad is now in the rearview mirror.

Defensively, the Pats looked solid in the first half. They held the Steelers offense in check until the Patriots offensive miscues took effect. When the Steelers’ offense got the ball in Patriots territory, the defense was as porous as Spongebob Squarepants. Because Pittsburgh got the ball with excellent field position so many times, it was unfair to say that the Patriots’ defense played poorly, although they did technically allow 33 points.

This loss dramatically reduces the Patriots’ chance of winning their division and slightly lessens their hopes a playoff birth. With the New York Jets holding a one game lead in first place, the Patriots’ are tied with the Miami Dolphins for second place. It seems the Patriots’ best chance of getting into the postseason is to win all of their remaining games. A delicate schedule is helpful and in our favor, but its do or die for the Patriots!

My MVP of the Game: Throughout the season, I have given my MVP award to many unsung heroes; players who have made tremendous contribution but may not show up on the highlight reel. This week, I think their was clearly one player who stood out above the rest, and that is Kevin Faulk. As the Patriots leading rusher and receiver, Faulk collected a total of 121 total yards, almost half of the Patriots total of 267. In his tenth year as a pro, Faulk may be having his best year with the Patriots and has contributed hugely when other players failed to step up.

Up Next: The Patriots head out to Seattle to square off with the 2-10 Seattle Seahawks’. In the midst of a five game losing streak, Seattle is one of the worst teams in the entire league. In the NFL, there is no such thing as an “easy game,” but I’m quite confident (knock on wood) that the Patriots have what it takes to beat the hapless Seahawks’, and start their run to the playoffs off on the right foot.

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