Standing Room Only: Brady's bests

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Standing Room Only: Brady's bests

According to this week's New England Football Night trivia, "Tom Brady averages more passing yards against Pittsburgh (337 yards) than any other team."

I found that pretty interesting.

So much so that I decided to go through the numbers and find some other career statistical bests. (For the most part, like with the stat above, I stuck with averages, because otherwise some combination of the Bills, Dolphins and Jets would finish 1,2,3 in every category.)

Without further Apu, here are a few other Brady bests:

Best career QB rating? That would be the 118.4 career mark that he's posted against the Jaguars. In three games against Jacksonville (we're talking regular season here), Brady's thrown for 744 yards, seven touchdowns and zero interceptions.

The Jaguars are actually one of only four teams against which Brady's never thrown an interception. The others are the Raiders, Eagles and Giants. Research shows that he's also never thrown an INT against the Columbus Panhandles, Muncie Flyers or Staten Island Stapletons. (Although, he does have two career fumbles vs. the Panhandles; not that I have to remind you).

Most passing attempts a game? Not surprisingly, that's also the Steelers, at a 43.2 attemptsgame clip. However, the Bears are a close second with 42.6 attempts a game. Brady's only played the Bears three times in his career (as opposed to the five regular season contest vs. Pittsburgh) and is 3-0 with 964 yard, six touchdowns and three interceptions.

The one Brady vs. the Bears game that always sticks out to me was during the lost season of 2002 the year after the first title. The 4-4 Pats headed to Chicago for Week 10, fresh off losses in four of their last five games. After all the success of the previous season, it was an unbelievably frustrating time in Patriots Nation even more so after New England went down 27-6 in the third quarter.

At that point, I remember shutting off the TV. I couldn't take it anymore, and unleashed my aggression on about five straight games of Madden. When that was over, I flipped on NFL Primetime, just in time to catch highlights of Brady's latest fourth quarter comeback. Final score: Pats 33, Bears 30. Too bad the season didn't just end there.

And finally, Tom Brady doesn't run much, but when he does, you know he's always good for a yard. Right over center, just how he likes. In those case, it isn't much of a QB scramble as it is, QB put your head down and lunge, but regardless, it's pretty much unstoppable

Against all but two teams: The Oakland Raiders and the New York Giants are the only teams against which Brady has negative career rushing yards. Five rushes for -1 yards against Oakland, seven rushes for -4 against the Giants.

The team against which Brady averages the most yards per "run"? The Green Bay Packers. Brady's run nine times for 32 yards against Green Bay. That's 3.56 a run.

And with that knowledge, we'll all sleep better tonight.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Tomlin calls Patriots 'a--holes' in speech Antonio Brown posts on Facebook

Tomlin calls Patriots 'a--holes' in speech Antonio Brown posts on Facebook

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.

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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.  

Curran: Steelers survive, advance to AFC Championship Game vs. Patriots

Curran: Steelers survive, advance to AFC Championship Game vs. Patriots

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.

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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.