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Ground Gives Way in Playoffs

January 30, 2005|Bob Oates | Special to The Times

In fact, he couldn't.

How to Stop Pittsburgh

Belichick and his defensive coordinator, Romeo Crennel, harassed Pittsburgh with multiple defenses.

On first-down plays, they filled the box with eight Patriots, denying Pittsburgh running room, then on subsequent downs stood back and waited for Roethlisberger to throw or run.

Thus, Belichick confounded precisely what Pittsburgh Coach Bill Cowher hoped to do.

Rarely, on such a big day of pro football, have there been two such predictable offenses and workable defenses.

Brady vs. McNabb

The Super Bowl will be won next week by the better quarterback, Brady or McNabb, or the better coach, Belichick or Reid. Or possibly even the better team, Patriots or Eagles, although, fundamentally, pro football is a game of quarterbacking and coaching.

Experience often counts, and defense is also vital, but the best coaches usually have the best defenses.

Brady and McNabb are similar quarterbacks whose difference as passers is largely a reflection of the offensive systems their leaders prefer.

Reid favors West Coast football, which usually puts McNabb in short-pass formations.

Belichick, a recent convert to passing, favors a more varied attack, which he can adjust from week to week.

This has been McNabb's best season. He has finally learned how to unload straight passes fast. And when the Eagle system permits, he can throw Brady-like bombs.

A Super Bowl with McNabb vs. Brady? That could be some Super Bowl.

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