Brady: No 'magic dust' to beat Steelers

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Brady: No 'magic dust' to beat Steelers

FOXBORO Good defense, bad defense. It doesn't really matter.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the high-powered Patriots offense have been equal opportunity destroyers of defenses all season.

Even the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team whose defense has consistently been among the NFL's best for years, isn't immune to being lit up by the Brady bunch.

"It's just execution, guys getting open and us completing them," Brady said. "There's no special thing we do. There's no magic dust we put in our cereal in the morning, or anything like that. We just play really well, and that does pretty well against any defense."

Maybe so, but what makes New England's success so surprising is that much of it comes in the passing game -- an area where most teams struggle against Pittsburgh.

The Steelers come into Sunday's game with a defense ranked No. 3 in the NFL, and a pass defense that's giving up an NFL-low 171.9 yards through the air per game.

Meanwhile, New England counters with an aerial attack that's generating an NFL-best 350.5 yards per game.

And adding to the challenge will be the location: Heinz Field. It's a place where many a team has entered only to leave battered, bruised and defeated.

Brady admits that if the Patriots aren't careful, the crowd can become a factor.

"We always talk about, night before the game, in the meeting room, look around and say, 'This is all we got. This is all we need.' " Brady said. "If we make good plays, the crowd is not going to be a factor. If we don't, you better believe they'll be there all day long."

They certainly played a role in a 34-20 loss in 2004, the last time the Pats lost on Heinz Field.

"The better we play, the less factor they will be and there's less margin for error," Brady said. "You're playing in a place where you're very unfamiliar, and you're playing, they got their crowd noise, and they got a lot of energy is kind of, kind of focused on the home team."

As much as the Black and Gold fans will have their say, ultimately the game will be won -- or lost -- by the players on the field.

"Like in '08, we didn't play well and they kicked the crap out of us," Brady said. "In '04 they kicked the crap out of us. You gotta go in expecting to play our best game. If we don't, it's a long hard day. If we do, then we're confident we can get a win."

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

FOXBORO -- The highly-anticipated first Patriots injury report of the week was released on Wednesday afternoon, and it was fairly predictable. 

Both injured quarterbacks were active but limited in their practice participation, the report indicated. That comes as little surprise as both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) were spotted throwing passes early in Wednesday's practice. Neither appeared to be experiencing any significant discomfort as they made their warm-up throws. 

Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) were also limited. Gronkowski admitted that the team was taking it slow with him in his first game back on the field last week -- he played just 14 snaps in New England's win over Houston -- but he said on Wednesday that he hoped to go "freakin' crazy" on the field soon.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)

BUFFALO BILLS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Charles Clay (knee)
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

FOXBORO -- Jimmy Garoppolo spoke Wednesday for the first time since getting his shoulder separated by the Dolphins’ Kiko Alonso. Standing by his locker, Garoppolo was predictably vague about the status of his arm, unless you consider, “Getting better day by day,” as being insightful. 

The only two responses offered that were worth a damn came when asked if he could have done anything different when he got squished by Alonso while retreating and buying time.  

“Just have to be smart I guess,” said Garoppolo. “I mean, it’s football and stuff’s gonna happen like that, but have to be smart in those situations.”

Asked if he regretted holding the ball as long as he did on a third-down play with the Patriots up 21-0, Garoppolo replied, “After it’s all said and done it’s easy to say that, but it’s one of those things, you’re in the heat of the game. But bottom line I have to be smarter than that.”

Agreed.  

Meanwhile, as he worked last week to get back for Thursday night’s game against Houston, The Boston Herald reported that the Patriots were “putting pressure” on Garoppolo to be ready for the game. Working hard to get key players ready for upcoming games is standard operating procedure for a medical staff. Trying to force a player to perform is not. 

I asked Garoppolo if he felt unduly pressured. He replied, “No.”