New England Beats Steelers 28-21; The Smarter Team Takes NFL Game One

by Fred Pahlke | Posted on Friday, September 11th, 2015

I have noticed a thing or two about the New England Patriots since the coming of Head Coach Bill Belichick (16th season).  It has me going back in time when I was a big city public school principal, a job I did for 31 years.  My district hired a outsider from another city, a man that was not liked that much in his time in “my” district.  Always fighting the good fight against low test scores in our most impoverished schools (how about almost all of our schools) the new leader in charge was all business when he said to “his” principals, most that he didn’t hire that first year in the position, “do what it takes to raise scores.” He did mean through legal means, but when the line was quite possibility gray, justify your actions in any which way you could to take advantage in getting those student test scores up.  What he was saying to us was that if it wasn’t against the rules of the district, state, or feds, and you could improvise in your work to push the envelope, you better well do it.  Not that he was condoning cheating, but he sure wasn’t expecting you to sit in your position as a principal and not do everything possible to “get those darn scores up.”  In reality, he was a good leader in that respect. That is, you better do you job with fidelity or you would be looking for a new job. No excuses would be accepted.  And on our end, do you job or lose it. As a point of attention, he passed around a box at a principal’s meeting of 70 or more building administrators. In the box was the scrotum and testicles of a cow (bull).  His remark was, “shXX ran downhill.”  We got the point.  Needless to say, I manipulated the system (with fidelity), the whole system, from the school site I was principal up though the State Department of Education.  Legally, within the written laws and policies, my test scores were up that year. During the five year tenure of that superintendent, my test scores were away good, as I found the way to be successful. I was a winner, and my boss approved.

Getting back to New England, they are a franchise led by a coach (Belichick) that has the same win at all costs (within the perimeters of the system) philosophy and bend or abuse the rules if necessary.  The NFL grave is littered with losers in the coaching profession that didn’t go all out for victory, and that will not be the way of business in Foxboro.  New England is, as Charlie Sheen would say, is about “winning” and nothing else is acceptable.  Yes, the number of NFL Championships and the greatness of the franchise is a work of art in manipulation of the whole, mastermined by Bill Belichick.  As long as he coaches in the NFL, his teams will always be near or at the top. He has found the way to win and nobody will be able to touch his final record when he hangs up his charts.

Examine the comments of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, a winning quarterback with his own Super Bowl rings. His Pittsburgh Steelers took it on the chin last night in Foxboro, 28-21.  Big Ben was not a happy camper after his Steelers were handed the tough loss, one which his offense was very effective in moving the ball, but not so effective in making touchdowns to keep pace with his contemporary Tom Brady and his Pats.  It boiled down to a series that the Steelers needed a touchdown, had the ball deep in the red zone, but came away with only a field goal.  Roethlisberger tried to pass the blame to the New England defense in the press briefing after the game.

With the Pats up 21-11 in the 4th quarter, Pittsburg was at the Pat’s one yard line with a first down thanks to a pass interference penalty.  Things were not looking so bad for the Steelers as there was enough time on the clock for a full comeback.  After two unsuccessful plays the Steelers were faced with a 3rd and goal still at the one. On that 3rd down play the Pat’s defensive line pulled a shift prior to the snap, causing multiple Steeler o-linemen to jump, resulting in a false start which they were whistled on.  On the next play, a 3rd down rush from the 6 yard line was snuffed out and Pitt followed with a short field goal. Four points left on the field which made the score 21-14 and  not 21-18 or 21-19.  Roethlisberger argued (on field) the motion on 3rd down to no avail.

In the briefing Ben tried to explain the situation that resulted in the missed opportunity for Pittsburgh.

“In my years of playing, a defensive guy can’t bark stuff or move in the middle of a cadence. The ref said, ‘We didn’t go in the neutral zone,’ and I agree with him. I wasn’t arguing that part. I was arguing the fact that he shifted in the middle of a cadence, and I thought that there was a rule against it. Maybe there’s not — maybe it’s an unwritten rule — I don’t really know.

“So, that’s what I was more upset about. They do that. We saw it on film that the Patriots do that. They shift and slide and do stuff on the goal line, knowing that it’s an itchy trigger-finger-type down.”

As examined by the NFL, New England was within the rules of the game in their actions on that goal line stand. There is nothing against disrupting a team’s cadence with a defensive line shift if it does not involve “words or signals” which it did not in this situation.  The Steelers should not have been surprised of this tactic as they have viewed on many occasions watching game film of the Pat’s defense.  Ben’s complaint was needless and ultimately, baseless.  The difference of  “winning” football as played by the New England defense and losing football as played by the Pittsburgh hinged on a simple shift of some linemen on one play. Coach Belichick makes that adjustment because he is the best coach in the league. He looks for the edge to raise the test scores which in the NFL are given on Sundays through game play.

My former superintendent would be proud of the way New England does business. Not that Pittsburgh is less the franchise or in fact , the lessor team. But in the NFL if you don’t do your due diligence and allow yourself to “miss” something as important as jumping the gun in a tight goal line situation, you are putting yourself at risk in winning.  “Winning” is something that New England does. Right now, Pittsburgh, only on occasion.

Photo  Credit Above: Getty Photo







About the Author

Oklahoma native has viewed over 10,000 sporting events in his 61 years. A season ticket holder of the Oklahoma City Thunder and expert in both professional and college basketball and football. A graduate of Oklahoma City University. Elementary School Principal in the Oklahoma City Public Schools for 31 years.

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