Over the past three games, the Patriots have not amassed more than 20 points in any of them. Ex-Patriots, and current NBC football analyst, Rodney Harrison has a few reasons for why this is, and why Tom Brady hasn't looked as sharp this season, and he explained them to Tom E. Curran on 'Quick Slants':
1. The offensive line isn't doing its job: "You have to start with the offensive line. Teams that are good rushing teams that are rushing different stunts, different types of blitzes, they're putting pressure on Tom Brady. The blueprint for beating the Patriots . . . Tight man-to-man coverage, pressure up the middle, and force Brady to his left. Teams are starting to do that and the offensive line is not protecting him."
2. Brady's comfort level isn't right: "Tom, he's staring at his receivers. He doesn't feel comfortable. People are playing tight man-to-man coverage. He's got a 'robber' playing in the middle of the field so when Wes Welker or guys are coming across the middle they have someone there."
3. Brady is trying to do too much to make up for other team voids: "They're pressing. Tom Brady is pressing because he knows that this defense isn't really very good. They're going to give up a lot of points, they're going to give up a lot of yards, and he's putting a lot of pressure on himself to go out there and make plays. So he just needs to relax, they need to run the football, but they have to, more important than anything, they have to protect Tom.
There was no postseason clunker for Tom Brady Sunday. In fact, his performance Sunday was one of the best of his NFL record 24 playoff wins.
PATRIOTS 33, STEELERS 9
Brady completed 32 of 42 passes for 384 yards and three touchdowns with no turnovers. His passing yard total is a Patriots postseason record.
No. 12’s dominance helped Chris Hogan set a Patriots postseason record with 180 receiving yards on nine catches. Two of his grabs went for touchdowns, including a 39-yard touchdown on a flea-flicker in the second quarter.
The previous Pats' postseason record was held by Deion Branch, who had 153 receiving yards in the Patriots' divisional round loss to the Broncos in the 2005 season.
Hogan’s performance ranks tied for 17th all-time in terms of receiving yards in a postseason game. The record is still safely held by former Bills receiver Eric Moulds, who had 240 receiving yards on Jan. 2, 1999 in a loss to the Dolphins.
Hogan wasn’t the only Pats receiver to finish with gaudy numbers. Julian Edelman had eight catches for 118 yards and a touchdown.
FOXBORO -- Notes from the Patriots' 36-17 victory over the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game:
PATRIOTS 33, STEELERS 9
-- The Patriots are headed to their ninth Super Bowl, most in NFL history. The Cowboys, Broncos and Steelers have each been to eight.
-- The Patriots are now 9-4 in AFC Championship Games, including 6-1 in games played in Foxboro and 5-1 at Gillette Stadium.
-- The Patriots are now 3-0 against the Steelers in AFC Championship Games, and 4-1 overall against Pittsburgh in the playoffs.
-- The Patriots are 31-19 in postseason games, including 20-4 at home (3-1 at Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium, 17-3 at Gillette).
-- The Patriots won their 31st postseason game tonight, moving them past the 49ers into fourth place on the list of all-time playoff victories in NFL history. They trail the Cowboys (34), Steelers (34) and Packers (32).
-- The Patriots' .620 winning percentage (31-19) in postseason games is now second-best in NFL history, behind the Ravens (15-8, .652). The Packers' loss today drops them to third (34-22, .607).
-- The Patriots have now won eight conference championships with Robert Kraft as owner, setting an NFL for most conference titles in the Super Bowl. Kraft had been tied with the Denver Broncos' Pat Bowler at seven.
-- Bill Belichick is now 25-10 in postseason games as a head coach and is in a tie with Bill Walsh (10-4) for third place on the NFL list of best postseason coaching winning percentage. Vince Lombardi (9-1, .900) is in first place and Tom Flores (8-3. .727) is second.
-- Belichick is advancing to his seventh Super Bowl as a head coach, most in NFL history. He had been tied with Don Shula at six. Belichick's Super Bowl record is 4-2, Shula's is 2-4.
-- Tom Brady had his ninth three-touchdown-pass postseason game, tying Joe Montana for the NFL record.
-- Stephen Gostkowski, who entered the game with 142 career postseason points, scored 12 points today and moved past Gary Anderson into third place on the NFL's all-time list of kicking points in the postseason. Adam Vinatieri (234) is first and David Akers (175) is second.