PITTSBURGH - Tom Brady's intensity always runs high. But against the Steelers, he sometimes looks like he's about to pop a vessel. Last season, the Patriots came into Pittsburgh on November 14 with a 6-2 record. They were fresh off a sloppy and disturbing loss at Cleveland. Their road wins earlier in the season -- at Miami and at San Diego -- were not offensive masterpieces, and it seemed the same road flaws of 2009 were still alive and kicking. After scoring early to take a 7-0 lead in that Sunday night game, the offense bogged down. And Brady went off. Coincidence or not, they didn't lose another regular-season game after that and never scored fewer than 31 points. Brady put the jumper cambles to his offensive teammates that night and pushed them to reach another level. Sunday in Pittsburgh, Brady sees a similar situation developing where urgency is needed. Albert Breer of the NFL Network tweeted earlier Sunday that Brady told him the Patriots will learn about themselves today. "Its always a big game, Brady told Breer. And it always seems to be at this time of year, when you really find out what your team is. Well find out more about who we are as a team on Sunday.Despite the Patriots being 5-1 and Brady on a record pace in terms of passing yards, he's lamented missed opportunities and "plays left out there" after almost every game. The Steelers have a defense good enough to cause missed opportunities and an offense capable of making their opponents pay. With the Patriots coming off their bye, you can expect Brady to hit the field in Pittsburgh Sunday afternoon with extremely high expectations for success. And he'll be pretty agitated if what he learns about this team is that they aren't ready to go next level yet.
Robert Kraft’s relationship with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was no doubt tested by the Deflategate saga, but apparently the Patriots owner is still thought of highly enough to be included in the new committee of five owners who will be among Goodell’s closest advisers.
Kraft, the New York Giants’ John Mara, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Art Rooney II, the Kansas City Chiefs’ Clark Hunt and the Houston Texans’ Bob McNair will form the committee. Those five are chairmen of the league’s various committees: Media (Kraft), Finance, Stadium, International and the Management Council Executive Committee.
The five had worked closely with Goodell on an informal basis. The NFL has now made their status official.
Kraft, long one of the most powerful owners in the NFL, has been critical of Goodell’s handling of the Deflategate case, but also stood down as “one of 32” owners and accepted the league’s punishment in the case without appealing.
Here are five Patriots players to watch who could strengthen their cases for roster spots with solid performances Friday against the Panthers.