The Patriots have been on a roll since the return of Tom Brady, but can the defense shut down a high powered Steelers offense that is missing its quarterback? Harris reviews last week’s win against the Cincinnati Bengals and look into this week’s matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers on this week’s episode of Patriots Beat.
The New England Patriots had one of their most complete games as a team against the Cincinnati Bengals last week. With a 35-17 win, the Patriots dominated on both sides of the ball.
One of the more impressive stories from last week is the performance of linebacker Dont’a Hightower. With 13 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and one safety, Hightower earned himself an AFC Defensive Player of the Week Honor. This lead to Hightower getting much attention across the nation and even had Harris saying “Dont’a Hightower is one of the best linebackers in football” and “Dont’a Hightower is an incredible NFL linebacker”
Another member of the defense who has caught Harris’ eye is Jabaal Sheard. “The best defensive end so far in the AFC this year has been Jabaal Sheard”. Sheard has earned 3.5 sacks on the year so far. With setting the edge, making plays against the run and having consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, Sheard has earned high praise this year.
Malcolm Butler is a player that Harris believes is “chomping at the bit for his matchup against Antonio Brown”. Harris states that Butler is “One of the best corners in football this year” and is looking to avenge his performance against Brown last year which Harris thought Antonio Brown “completely embarrassed Malcolm Butler” and “whipped Malcolm Butler”.
Jacob Klinger of Pennlive.com then joined Patriots beat to give a preview of what we might see this week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Klinger feels that Le’Veon Bell will be an important part of the game plan. “They’re having to use Le’Veon Bell to balance the passing game” Klinger said. With Ben Roethlisberger out, having a balanced attack and keeping the ball out of Landry Jones’ hand often is what we can expect to see this week from the Steelers.
Klinger then adds that it is “Extra critical to not fall behind quickly against the Patriots” and how it “Would be difficult to catch up to Patriots” without Ben Roethlisberger. So the key here for the Steelers is ball control and time of possession to keep their defense off the field and Tom Brady on the bench.
Sam Benson Smith from USA Today then joined to give his opinion on this week’s game.
Similar to Klinger, Smith felt that Le’Veon Bell is a critical piece to this week’s game plan.
“If the Pittsburgh Steelers are hoping to have a chance against the New England Patriots, they’re going to have to give Le’Veon Bell the ball”.
Not only is Le’Veon Bell a key component, but make sure he is the main component and have Landry Jones be a complimentary piece. “Minimize the amount of time Landry Jones has his hands on the ball”.
Harris talks more about who his favorite Patriots have been so far and what this offensive has the ability to do. See what Harris, Klinger, and Smith have to say on the Patriots Beat Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.