Patriots vs. Steelers: Gronk Says Pittsburgh Is 'Always Popping. It’s a Football Town'
Posted by: Gronkowski
We hate saying that any game is a “must win,” but it’s safe to see Sunday’s Patriots vs. Steelers meeting is a must win for both teams.
New England needs a victory to keep control of their playoff picture, while Pittsburgh wants a W just to stay in the post-season conversation.
The good news before they head behind the Steel Curtain following that embarrassing loss in Miami is that the Pats have excelled at Heinz Field in recent years. And remember that the Steelers fell to the Raiders last week – and that was even more humiliating than a Dolphins loss this season.
The Pats are 11-3 against the Steelers in the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era and have won each of the last five games against their AFC rivals, with Mike Tomlin and his team winless in the matchups since 2011.
As for Gronk, he followed the New England mantra this week after the loss to Miami by looking forward instead of backwards. “We haven’t brought it up or anything this whole week. We’ve just been focusing on the game this Sunday,” Rob told reporters on Thursday, according to Boston.com.
During last year’s dramatic showdown, Gronk had nine catches on a team-high 13 targets for a season-high 168 yards. Three of his receptions came on back-to-back-to-back throws from Brady in the waning minutes of the game. Together, they totaled 69 yards – yep, we’re not kidding - that set up the go-ahead 8-yard touchdown rush by Dion Lewis.
Steelers safety Sean Davis is still traumatized after trying to defend against No. 87. “I am going to make sure the deep shots Gronk got on me last year, he’s not going to get it this year,” he said.
Another good omen for the Pats as opposed to last week is the weather, it’s predicted to be around 33 degrees Sunday night – and we all know that Brady excels in the cold.
“It was chilly out there. I had to have the jacket on after practice,” Gronk said, which says a lot coming from a Buffalo boy.
According to Patriots.com, Rob credited their success against the Steelers to “just playing ball. Just going out and just doing what we’ve got to do, preparing throughout the week and going out and executing. Just executing plays, and that’s what we’ve got to keep on doing.
“Been having a good practice week this week, got to keep on building chemistry out there with the whole offense, and when we go out there Sunday, we’ve got to be prepared mentally and physically, and we’ve got to execute plays in order to put up points.”
As for how they’re gonna match him this year? “I feel like they’ll throw a lot of things. I mean, I’ve seen a lot from them before – a lot of coverages, a lot of split-safety, post-safety, man, zone. They switch it up a lot, too, and so I’ve had a couple guys before – like a linebacker covered me one time, a safety or a corner. So, to tell you the truth, they actually mix it up a lot and you’ve got to be prepared for it all, whatever coverage, whatever guy it is.”
But best of all, it’s always popping, he said. “It’s a football atmosphere. It’s a football town. It’s all about the Steelers. So, it’s going to be a great atmosphere. It’s going to be a lot of fun to play in, like it always is.”
Looking forward, the Chargers win over the Chiefs Thursday night helped the Pats overall in the AFC picture. They clinch the AFC East with a win or tie and a Miami loss, and clinch a playoff berth with a win and a Tennessee loss or tie or a Pats win and a Baltimore loss, a Tennessee loss and an Indy loss or tie.
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