Steelers Mike Tomlin looks to avoid shootout vs. Patriots

Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady matchups usually turn into classic shootouts between two of the NFL's best quarterbacks. But with Big Ben officially ruled out of Sunday's game, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin says a shootout vs. Brady is exactly what Pittsburgh will try to avoid in Sunday's game at Heinz Field. 

With Roethlisberger inactive after undergoing surgery to repair his torn meniscus on Monday, Landry Jones will make his third career start against a Patriots' team that is ranked 13th in total defense. 

"We gotta work to keep the score down," Tomlin said. "A shootout is not the type of game we’re looking for, but we’re knowledgeable that they’re capable of that."

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Tomlin's words imply that Pittsburgh will turn even more to Le'Veon Bell, who will have his work cut out for him against a Patriots's rush defense that is allowing just 3.7 yards per carry thus far. But if anyone can crack New England's rush defense, its Bell, who is averaging 5.5 yards per carry this season through three games. But Bell had just 10 carries in Sunday's loss in Miami, as Tomlin said that Pittsburgh "lost their personality a little bit" on offense. 

Pittsburgh's coach also said that, in order to keep the ball away from Brady and the Patriots' dangerous offense, the Steelers must do a better job on third down, as his team were just 3 of 11 on third down on Sunday. Conversely, Pittsburgh's defense must do better on third down after the Steelers allowed Miami to convert on 50% of their third down opportunities. 

While one can expect Bell to get more carries, it will be interesting to see what the Steelers do if DeAngelo Williams' knee continues to hinder him heading into the weekend. If that's the case, Fitzgerald Toussaint could get more opportunities in the ground game. The team could also call up Karlos Williams, who is currently on the team's practice squad after signing with the Steelers last week. 

But while Pittsburgh's running backs will have to deliver, Tomlin also said that it's important to find out what plays Jones feels most comfortable with leading up to Sunday's game. Jones will all of the first team snaps during this week's practices. 

"He’s been here a number of years now and has a very good knowledge of our offense," Tomlin said of Jones. "It's less about what he knows and more about what he’s able to execute at a high level."

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