Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe discusses the Steelers home-field advantage at Heinz Field. This should be one field where the home team does not enjoy a distinct advantage, as the Patriots play in a very similar venue. The knock on Heinz, at least for visiting teams, is that there is often inclement weather, wet or loose ground, and the swirling winds make it difficult for field goal kickers to make long tries. That place sounds awfully familiar…
Dan Shaughnessey of the Globe writes other teams will be using the Patriots organizational blueprint as a model for their own franchises. Shaughnessey praises the Patriots for their team-first attitude, and thanks them for providing a good example of how athletes should act.
In a similar vein, Cafardo reports team owner Robert Kraft has been generous in giving advice to John York, the new owner of the lowly San Francisco 49ers. York is seeking the advice of Kraft, and his son Jonathan, because it is so clear that Kraft's blueprint represents the league's current high-water mark. Interestingly enough, when Kraft bought the Patriots in the early 1990s, he sought organizational advice from the then-championship caliber 49ers.
The Globe also runs an associated press article by Alan Robinson that features Steelers kicker Jeff Reed. Reed, like his Patriots counterpart Adam Vinatieri, could figure prominently in Sunday's outcome. A telling statistic is there has never been a field goal made from more than 48 yards in Heinz Field since it opened in 2001.
Karen Guregian of The Boston Herald talks about the continued emergence of Asante Samuel and Randall Gay, both of whom did a bang-up job covering the Colts speedsters this past weekend. As Guregian points out, the play of Gay and Samuel could spell the end of Ty Law's tenure in New England, as Law should have little leverage in trying to convince the Pats he is worth the reported $12.5 million or so he would count against the salary cap next season.
In his Patriots Insider, Michael Felger of the Herald reports from a conversation with Chuck Noll, who coached the Steelers dynasty of the 1970s.
Felger also features Jarvis Green, who filled in for the injured Richard Seymour on the defensive line last weekend. Green played well in place of the Pro-Bowler, and took very personally the talk last week that without Seymour the Pats were doomed.
Rich Thompson of the Herald spotlights linebacker Rosevelt Colvin, who is happy to be contributing during this year's playoff run. Colvin, the Pats marquee acquisition before last season, watched the Super Bowl run from the sidelines, having suffered a serious hip injury in the season's second game.
Jarret Bell of USA Today describes the cast of characters that comprises the Pats now-famed "patchwork secondary."
In The Providence Journal, Jim Donaldson discusses the impact Steelers quarterbacks coach, former UMass headman Mark Whipple, has had on the rise of rookie QB Ben Roethlisberger.
Mike Reiss of The MetroWest Daily News asserts the importance of the Patriots run defense come Sunday. As Reiss points out, the Pats allowed a team 200 rushing yards twice during the regular season. The first such allowance, against the Colts opening night, was stoutly avenged this past weekend, as they held the Colts to but 46 yards on the ground. The other team to shred the Pats so prolifically was the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Michael Parente of The Woonsocket Call chronicles the physical battle that is sure to erupt in Pittsburgh this weekend. As Parente points out, the Steelers are just as physical a team as the Patriots, and will push back in situations the Colts did not.