Hernandez talks Jets, Brady's temper in radio spot

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Hernandez talks Jets, Brady's temper in radio spot

Patriots receiver Aaron Hernandez joined Colin Cowherd for an ESPN radio spot Tuesday morning. The timing was good, considering the Patriots broke a two-game slide over the Jets this past weekend. The win provided New England AFC East supremacy and an easy topic for discussion.

Hernandez was upbeat during his chat with Cowherd.

"It's a lot better when you come up with a victory at an away game because you know it hurts that team that much more," he said. "It's a tough win and it's always a lot tougher on the road, especially in New York, in that type of stadium and atmosphere. It's a great win and we're really excited."

MetLife Stadium's aura truly is intense. From the fireworks to Fireman Ed, and all the green in between, there's a lot to overwhelm opponents at the Jets' home field. But Hernandez said New England's 37-16 victory silenced the mob.

Cowherd asked if fans got in the receiver's face as he walked to the locker room.

"I wouldn't say that because most of them were already out of the stadium by the end," Hernandez laughed.

Surely nicer than seeing Patriots fans trudge out of Gillette two weeks ago.

Both Hernandez and Tom Brady needed to snap back to good for the offense to overcome the losing streak, to overcome New York. It happened. Brady completed 26 of 39 passes for 329 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. New England's 37 points equaled that of the previous two losses combined. Though none of Brady's TD's were hauled in by Hernandez (he has five in seven games), the pair connected four times for 41 yards.

"It's just the touch Brady has. When you have to get it right over that linebacker and drop it in the hole, or you have a defender right on your hip, and he puts it in the right place. There's just times where we're not open and he makes the pass and puts it in the right place and we look like we are open. A player like Tom just makes every player on the field that much better. It's awesome playing with him."

But Cowherd wasn't so interested in good times had by Brady's bunch. He wanted to know about the quarterback's fire, specifically, if the receivers are ever the targets of his temper.

"Not many times," said Hernandez, "but here or there, if I don't get my depth or if I make the wrong decision versus the wrong coverage he may curse me out a little bit. But he's very positive and never really screams at players too much.

"There's times he shows some emotion, but mostly he's laid back and stays to himself. But when things aren't going that great or the team needs some motivation, he definitely steps in and takes that role."

So it really is all good at Gillette? It is as far as Hernandez would say. He told Cowherd that Brady doesn't intimidate, and working with the three-time Super Bowl champion quarterback is nothing but a blessing. Who would have thunk it?

"He makes everyone feel comfortable. It's not like he thinks he's better than everyone and looks down on everyone. He's humble and makes everyone feel comfortable. When he yells at you it's deserved."

Antonio Brown posts questionable locker room video after Steelers win

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Antonio Brown posts questionable locker room video after Steelers win

Showing a knee-buckling lack of self-awareness, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown put up 13:35 of footage on Facebook Live after his team’s 18-16 win over Kansas City on Sunday night.

It was a weird betrayal of the team’s privacy by one of its star players. Brown, allowed viewers to see live (and on tape until it’s inevitably taken down) that, while head coach Mike Tomlin was around a bank of lockers addressing what Tomlin presumed was his entire team, Brown was mugging in front of his phone for a growing online audience.

The video starts with Brown and teammates having fun in front of their lockers. As the team is called together for a postgame prayer, Brown keeps the camera rolling. After the prayer, Tomlin made a statement.

“When you get to this point in the journey, not a lot needs to be said,” said Tomlin. “Let’s say very little moving forward. Let’s start our preparations. We spotted those a******* a day and a half. They played yesterday. Our game got moved to tonight. We gonna touch down at 4 o’clock in the f****** morning. So be it. We’ll be ready for that ass. But you ain’t gotta tell them we coming. Because some of us might not like the damn (woofkisses?) The chest pounding.  Keep a low profile.”

While Tomlin was issuing that low-profile request, Brown rolled on. Another Steeler then spoke up saying, “Keep cool on social media, this is about us, nobody else.”

Finally, what sounded like quarterback Ben Roethlisberger addressed the team saying of Foxboro, “That’s a lion’s den we’re going into this week. It’s a lion’s den. I’ve been there, a lot of us have been there. Keep your mouth shut.”

While people might fan themselves over Tomlin calling the Patriots a*******, that’s benign and likely will be matched in private by Patriots coaches this week.

What’s staggering is that a player of Brown’s ability and seeming intelligence would be so self-absorbed as to be agog at putting on a video show for Facebook followers at the expense of his coaches, teammates and franchise.  

Steelers survive, advance to visit Patriots despite red-zone woes

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Steelers survive, advance to visit Patriots despite red-zone woes

For the third time in the Belichick-Brady Era, the Patriots will be trying to step over the Steelers to get to a Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh went into Kansas City on Sunday night and outlasted a breathtakingly sluggish Chiefs team 18-16.

If you spent the day stewing about the Patriots adequate-against-Osweiler-but-probably-nobody-else offensive performance Saturday night, maybe Sunday night calmed your nerves.

Despite having a more than 2-to-1 edge in total yards entering the fourth, Pittsburgh had managed just six field goals from kicker Chris Boswell. Their best chance at getting six on the board was squelched when Ben Roethlisberger got picked at the goal line in the first half.

That Kansas City was even in the game with a chance to tie it in the final three minutes has to be humbling for the Steelers. They dominated every statistical category of consequence while the Chiefs played aimlessly behind Alex Smith, who may be a cut above Brock Osweiler but is definitely a cut below every other quarterback in the Divisional Playoff round.  

On this night, Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t much better.

Still, Pittsburgh’s got the best 1-2 punch in the NFL at running back and receiver – LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown were both at 101 yards after halftime – and New England’s entire defensive game plan will revolve around corralling those two and getting them horizontal.

The Patriots beat a Roethlisberger-less team in October, 27-16. Landry Jones was at quarterback that day.

The Steelers were in the Patriots’ red zone four times. They came away with 10 points. They were inside the Patriots’ 40 six times and finished with 16.

“In an offense like that with a bunch of very explosive players, one slant can turn into a touchdown so you have to be really careful in your coverages,” defensive end Rob Ninkovich told me after that game. "There’s not just one go-to guy. They got a running back that can catch it out of the backfield and make plays (Le’Veon Bell). [Antonio Brown] can catch it anywhere on the field and make plays. You just have to make sure with a guy like [Landry Jones] to have him make the throws. It’s hard in this league to be perfect. So to have him sit back there and try to make all the throws was what we chose and the secondary did a great job.”

Bell and Brown combined for 268 yards from scrimmage against the Patriots.

The Steelers scored one touchdown.

The ever-dawdling Bell, who practically walks to the line of scrimmage then skips around like a little kid with a full bladder before finding a crease to exploit, is where it will start for the Patriots.

If the Patriots are going to go to their seventh Super Bowl since Belichick’s hire, Alan Branch, Malcom Brown, Donta Hightower and Elandon Roberts – their two best interior linemen and their two inside linebackers – will be the ones who start the bus. The overwhelming majority of Bell’s runs are between the guards so building a wall and out-patienting him as he probes for a crease is Job One.

The Chiefs weren’t stout enough at the line of scrimmage and Bell brutalized them. It will, of course, fall to more than just those four. Trey Flowers, Rob Ninkovich, Chris Long, Vincent Valentine and Shea McLellin will also be in focus. Run-support from safeties Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty will be a part of it as well, but that’s where the Steelers become tough to deal with.

Once Bell’s established himself, the Steelers can start to work play-action and get Brown into space. Creep too far and the numbers on the back end could wind up being insufficient to deal with one of the NFL’s fastest players.

That’s why you can expect the Patriots to not overexert themselves with pressures and blitzes against Ben Roethlisberger. They’ll want as many back in coverage as possible to deal with Brown and some of the other Steelers speed merchants.

The Patriots have dealt with Pittsburgh’s defense enough to know where to attack. LeGarrette Blount ran for 127 yards on 24 carries in the first meeting and

Tom Brady went 19 for 26 for 222 with two touchdowns.

The Patriots had Gronk that day and the Steelers didn’t have Roethlisberger. That tips the scales some when measuring the differences. But after watching Pittsburgh kick six field goals and keep afloat an underperforming Chiefs team, the issue that dogged them in October – red zone offense – looks like its still around.

And they are going to visit a team that does that led the NFL in preventing points.