Skip to main content

Scouting Report: Patriots, Week 15

A look at what the Steelers will be up against on Sunday afternoon against the New England Patriots:


RESUME TAPE:** The Patriots had their eight-game winning streak snapped, 27-20, on Monday night in Miami. New England had averaged 27.4 points per game and allowed an average of 11.9 points per game during the streak. The run included victories over three teams with winning records through 13 games (Atlanta, 7-6; the Los Angeles Chargers, 7-6; and Buffalo, 7-6).

BACK ATTACK: Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake had 114 yards rushing on 25 carries and 79 yards receiving on five catches (six targets) in Miami's victory over New England on Monday night. Drake had a hand in 193 of the Dolphins' 362 total net yards.

BOUNCING BACK: New England is 44-6 (.880) in games following a loss since the beginning of the 2003 season. Quarterback Tom Brady is 44-10 all-time coming off a loss. The Patriots have lost back-to-back games in 2006, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2015 (twice) since 2003.

SITUATIONAL FOOTBALL: The Patriots have scored in the final minute of the first half 10 times  and have an NFL-best 48 points on the first drive of a second half (tied with the Saints) in 13 games. New England was 0-for-11 on third downs at Miami but ranks eighth overall in third-down conversions (41.9 percent). The Patriots are No. 16 in third-down defense (39.3 percent). New England is No. 13 in red zone offense (touchdowns on 57.1 percent of its drives inside the opponents' 20-yard line) and No. 7 in red zone defense (opponents have converted 47.4 percent of such drives into TDs). The Patriots have allowed an NFL-low five rushing touchdowns (tied with Tennessee). New England is No. 29 in total defense (374.6 yards per game) and No. 5 (tied) in scoring defense (19.2 points per game).


TAKING CARE OF THE BALL:** New England has thrown an NFL-low six interceptions (tied with Los Angeles and New Orleans) and has turned the ball over 10 times (second to Kansas City's nine). The Patriots lead the NFL since 2008 with 66 games without a turnover and are 59-7 in those games.

PROTECTION ISSUES: Brady has been sacked 29 times in 13 games (he was sacked 15 times in 12 games last season).

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (6-foot-6, 265 pounds) has 30 catches for 496 yards and eight touchdowns in five career games against the Steelers, including a pair of three-TD games. The only time Gronkowski played against the Steelers and didn't catch a touchdown pass was on Oct. 30, 2011 at Heinz Field (the Steelers won, 25-17). Gronkowski finished that game with seven catches for 94 yards. His career averages against the Steelers are six catches, 99.2 receiving yards and 1.6 receiving TDs per game. He's amassed his 30 career receptions against the Steelers on 36 targets.

PASSING-GAME CAPABLE: Patriots running back James White has more receptions (54) than carries (43), more receiving yards (421) than rushing yards (171) and more receiving touchdowns (three) than rushing TDs (zero). White leads all NFL running backs with 12 receiving touchdowns since 2015 and his 54 receptions this season match wide receiver Brandin Cooks for second on the team behind Gronkowski (55). Running back Rex Burkhead has 29 catches and running back Dion Lewis has 20. Brady will willingly involve his running backs in the passing game if they're available.


SPECIAL EDITION:** The Patriots blocked kicks in three straight games from Oct. 22 through Nov. 12 (blocked field goal vs. Atlanta, blocked field goal vs. the Los Angeles Chargers, blocked punt vs. Denver). New England has blocked 12 kicks since 2014 (tied with Baltimore and Philadelphia for the most in the NFL in that span). The Patriots converted a first down on a fake punt on Nov. 26 against Miami, New England's first attempt at a fake punt since 2004. The Patriots produced a safety on a punt return on Oct. 29 against the Chargers, the first time that had happened in an NFL game since 2003. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski made a Patriots-record 62-yard field goal on Oct. 17 against Oakland and is 4-for-4 on field goals of 50-plus yards this season. Lewis had a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Denver.


The Steelers prepare for the Week 15 matchup against the New England Patriots.

STAT THAT MATTERS:** The Patriots have the best record in the NFL in games decided by three points or fewer (40-17-0, .702) since 2001 (postseason included).

STAT THAT MATTERS II: Brady has a career record of 10-2 against the Steelers (3-0 in the postseason).

HE SAID IT: "They worry about the people that they think can beat them. That's why it comes down to other guys gotta make plays. That's just the way it is and the way it always has been. They're capable of taking two guys away. As the game progresses, as you get into the game you figure some of those things out and you make necessary adjustments if it's different than what you thought it was going to be. But the bottom line is you gotta make plays, you gotta stay on the field and you gotta finish drives with points." _ Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley on playing against the Patriots' defense.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.