PITTSBURGH — Thick, soupy mist smothered the city of Pittsburgh on Monday morning, just eight hours after Tom Brady and Bill Belichick had left the Steelers and their fans in a confused fog.
Brady’s systemic dissection and dismantling of the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers defence on Sunday night certainly had a humbling effect on the rabid members of Steelers Nation, who spent the aftermath wondering if their beloved heroes were that bad or if New England’s marquee quarterback was that good.
Certainly a case could be made for bit of both when you conduct an autopsy of the Patriots 39-26 thrashing of the Steelers.
But when all was said and done, this performance, more than anything else, just served to add to the Hall of Fame body of work the Patriots pretty boy quarterback and his no-nonsense coach continue to build.
To be honest, Belichick and Brady punched their tickets to Canton a long time ago. The only questions that remain: When their Hall of Fame busts are chiselled, will Belichick pose while wearing a hoody? And will Brady be depicted with his lengthy Justin Bieber locks?
Those are issues for another time.
Of more relevance right now is the remarkable run this coach-quarterback duo is compiling together, no matter what the adversity or who makes up the ever-changing supporting cast.
In examining all the stats involving the Patriots, one jumps off the page at you: New England is now on a streak of 25-2 in the game following a loss in Belichick’s regime.
Having been thumped themselves by the upstart Cleveland Browns a week earlier, Brady, Belichick and the Pats totally outscored, outplayed and outcoached a Pittsburgh side that some experts, including former NFL coach Steve Mariucci, considered to be the best team in the league entering Sunday’s action.
Maybe the Steelers look better than the Pats on paper, but Belichick has never been one for artistic merit. One look at him on the sideline in his dishevelled wardrobe is proof of that.
Wins and losses are all that matter to Belichick.
To that end, the Patriots today find themselves tied with the rival New York Jets for the best record in the AFC at 7-2, setting up a juicy Monday night matchup between the Belichicks and the Rex Ryans in Foxboro on Dec. 6.
That’s still a few weeks away. Of more pressing concern is the upcoming grudge match this coming weekend when Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts come to Gillette Stadium.
Despite leading Manning 3-1 in Super Bowl rings, Brady does not get the fanfare of Manning, who seems to star in every second television commercial each NFL Sunday.
But over the past decade, consider that Manning has played with 21 Pro Bowlers in Indy. Brady? Just 13.
These two have clashed in some memorable matchups, including Belichick’s famous fourth-and-two gamble last year. That bold decision blew up in his face when the Pats failure to convert allowed the Colts to come back for a 35-34 win in Indy.
It was one of the few choices Belichick has made that has not turn to gold.
In fact, evidence of Belichick’s coaching wizardry was front and centre Sunday at Heinz Field, normally one of the toughest places for opponents to play.
Lacking a cache of big name personalities, New England’s low-rated defence came into the game with three rookie starters and a rotation that features 19 different players. And yet, thanks in part to the best Xs and Os coach in the biz, the Steelers offence was almost completely shut down for three quarters.
Brady, meanwhile, tossed three touchdown passes and ran for another en route to running his all-time record against the Steelers to an impressive 6-1.
When Randy Moss was traded to the Minnesota Vikings in early October, there were public suggestions that the Pats were throwing in the towel on the season, choosing to rebuild for the future.
Instead, the Pats have lost just once since sending Moss packing en route to compiling the league’s best record.
That’s what happens when anyone dares to underestimate Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.