Can Patriots carry over success vs. Steelers defense to the Falcons?

Can Patriots carry over success vs. Steelers defense to the Falcons?

The Patriots defense against the prolific scoring offense of the NFC-champion Falcons in Houston should provide a fascinating matchup on Super Bowl Sunday.

Desperately seeking quick points, Roethlisberger was intercepted in the final quarter, though he did pick up a consolation 30-yard touchdown to Cobi Hamilton late one.

The lackluster game by Brown was by design.

Someone like Bell - or Cutler, or Tomlinson, who were wrongly criticized - doesn't get to this point in his professional career and quit. Big Ben, to his credit, was mostly accurate. Passing games kill them.

Bell left the game in the first half with a groin injury and was sidelined the rest of the way. New England's defense is not only better equipped than most to slow down Bell, but in Malcolm Butler can also boast one of the few cornerbacks capable of matching up one-on-one with Antonio Brown. The Pats eventually corralled Williams, though, holding him to 34 yards on 14 carries. Hogan caught nine balls for 180 yards and two scores. DeAngelo Williams had a touchdown run for Pittsburgh, but the Steelers rushed for just 54 yards.

The Steelers had a good year, and they got further than many expected back when they were 4-5 and scuffling around their bye week. That resulted in one three-and-out, but was otherwise ineffective. There were no adjustments to tighten the coverage on Hogan and wide receiver Julian Edelman (eight catches for 118 yards and a touchdown) or get more pressure on Brady.

Still, he contributed on a 70-yard drive toward the end of the second quarter that appeared to be capped by Jesse James' TD reception.

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The Patriots were the second-best defense against the deep pass, allowing just 28.2 percent to be completed with only three TDs, five interceptions and a 47.5 rating that was the second lowest.

While the offense led the National Football League with 33.8 points per game, the defense ranked 27th in points allowed. If you take out the Packers-Cowboys and Steelers-Chiefs games, that number is 19.

"After the Houston performance [last week's spotty effort in the AFC divisional game] [coach] Bill [Belichick] was hard on us and we had a tough week of practice". To that point in the game, Hogan already had 57 yards receiving, quickly becoming Brady's go-to man for the evening.

The Steelers would add a touchdown of their own in the second quarter, but miss the extra point.

Blount set up his score with a churning 18 yard run to the Pittsburgh 1. Even though the touchdowns weren't there when the team needed them, Roethlisberger played well in this game. He doesn't just beat the Steelers; he's 17-3 in home playoff games. But, given that the team is getting Martavis Bryant back next season, offense probably isn't their gravest worry.

But, on the other hand, the NFL's securing of favorable case law may not have been worth the monetary and non-monetary costs of the prolonged legal battle. He tried, but just couldn't go.

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