Brady prepares, but doesn't get caught up in Jets Week


Brady prepares, but doesn't get caught up in Jets Week

FOXBORO -- It's known simply by two words: Jets Week.

Say no more, say no more. The Jets will be in Foxboro this weekend for a Sunday afternoon showdown against the Patriots, and you can be sure that it's all the buzz around New England.

Tom Brady has started in 22 games against the Jets including two postseason games. The Patriots record in these games is 16-5. (He appeared but did not start in one other, a loss, for an injured Drew Bledsoe . . . remember that?)

But despite the team's superb record against the Jets, Brady's performances haven't always been great. He's thrown for three or more touchdowns just three times over his career against them and has amassed his career 96.6 QB rating in just ten of those 21 starts.

He knows firsthand that New York certainly gets up for the occasion.

"It's a great rivalry, there's no question," Brady said. "We've had so many meaningful games against these guys. And it's like, we do the scouting report and they go though the names on the list, and I go, 'I know every single one of these guys. Why are we talking David Harris, and Antonio Cromartie?' They have a few new faces in there but this defense presents some great challenges for our offense, and ones we've faced since Rex Ryan has been the head coach of that team. It's a great rivalry, it's a fun game for us players. And it's always had meaning behind it. It's never been a meaningless game, so this one will be no different than that."

With both division rivals entering the game at 3-3 and tied for first place (or last, depending on how your glass looks right now), both sides know that the winner of Sunday's game could greatly benefit later on in the season if the division remains close. Preparation is, as always, key.

While New England had to cram for last Sunday's game against the Seahawks, they are obviously more familiar with what the Jets do. They play them at least eight times in-between Seattle games.

"When you play a team you don't play very often you try to get up to speed as quickly as you can and understand their strengths and weaknesses," Brady said. "Certainly a team like the Jets we know what they do well and we try to find ways to exploit the things that we don't think they do very well."

As far as all the hype surrounding the game, Brady isn't getting caught up in any of it unlike, ahem, some of us.

"I don't have to write any stories or anything like that. I just have to show up and do my job," he said.

Steelers know they'll have their hands full with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett


Steelers know they'll have their hands full with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett

PITTSBURGH – So far this season, Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski have combined for 39 catches, 644 yards and five touchdowns. Making the numbers that much more impressive is the fact the numbers were rolled up with Gronk inactive for two games and fairly useless in another thanks to his hamstring injury.

Will the Steelers slow the roll of Robellus Grennetski?

Hard to imagine. As Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette points out, Gronk alone has tuned up the Steelers with 26 receptions for 403 yards and seven touchdowns in six meetings.

Fittipaldo explored the strategies the Steelers defense may unveil Sunday afternoon when the Patriots and Steelers get going. He also pointed out that the return of linebacker Ryan Shazier after a three week layoff and injuries for safeties Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden may put Pittsburgh at a disadvantage.

Said Shazier: “They have the tandem they want at tight end. Now they can use tight ends the way they want. You have to respect everyone on the field. Both of them are good blockers, good pass threats and great at running after the catch.”

Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler said Pittsburgh will alter its approaches.

“We have to be able to play more than one defense,” Butler said. “They’re very good and they’ll pick you apart if they can figure out what you’re doing. We just have to execute the defense more than anything else. If we can do that … that’s been our problem for the most part. Some of the things that went on last week, we missed some things we should have made mentally.”

What “went on last week” was a 30-15 loss to the Dolphins.

Pittsburgh hasn’t been a big-play group so far -- eight sacks and three picks -- nor have they seen a gauntlet of great quarterbacks in the first six games. 

Interestingly, their losses have been to Ryan Tannehill and rookie Carson Wentz, probably the two quarterbacks one would figure Pittsburgh would do best against.
Between a smoking hot Brady and a can’t-be-stopped tight end tandem, there’s probably not a lot Pittsburgh can do aside from hoping for an off day.

Said linebacker Arthur Moats hopefully: “You have to continue to mix it up against (Gronkowski). You can’t give him the same look over and over. He has success on guys like that. If we disrupt him, and rush Brady and speed up his clock, I definitely think that will help out.”

In theory, perhaps. In practice? We’ll see.

Game notes: Patriots vs. Steelers


Game notes: Patriots vs. Steelers

A quick look at the information you need to know about today's Patriots-Steelers game:

TEAM RECORDS: Patriots 5-1, Steelers 4- 2

GAME TIME: 4:25 p.m. EST


TV ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Tracy Wolfson


NATIONAL RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Larry Kahn, Mark Carrier and Troy West

LOCAL RADIO NETWORK: Anchored by WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub)

LOCAL RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Bob Socci and Scott Zolak


LAST MEETING: Patriots 28, Steelers 21 on Sept. 10, 2015 at Gillette Stadium

* * * *
-- The Patriots are 8-11 against the Steelers in Pittsburgh in their history, but are 4-2 at Heinz Field. Included in those four Heinz Field victories are two in AFC Championship Games (in the 2001 and 2004 seasons).

-- Tom Brady is 8-2 against the Steelers in his career.

-- The last time Brady played the Steelers, in 2015, he set a Patriots franchise record with 19 consecutive pass completions.

-- The Patriots are 108-70 (.607) in road games since 1994, the best record in the NFL over that span. The Steelers (97- 82, .542) are second.

-- The Patriots have yet to throw an interception in 2016, setting a team record for consecutive games without an interception at the start of a season (6). The NFL record for consecutive games at the start of a season without a pick is 9, set by the 1960 Browns. The Patriots' franchise record for overall consecutive games with no interceptions is 8, set in 2010.

* * * *
-- Rob Gronkowski has 67 overall touchdowns and needs one to tie Stanley Morgan (68) for the franchise record.

-- Gronkowski has 66 receiving touchdowns and needs one to tie Morgan (67) for the franchise record.

-- Gronkowski has 22 100-yard receiving games, including two in 2016, and is tied with Jackie Smith for the third-most among all NFL tight ends. The only TEs who have more are Kellen Winslow (24) and Tony Gonzalez (31).