Patriots receiver Deion Branch stopped by for a visit with Mut & Merloni at Gillette Stadium as part of WEEI's Patriots Monday and talked about Sunday's 25-17 loss to the Steelers.
The Steelers played more man defense than many people expected, but Branch isn't one of those people.
"I wouldn't say it was a surprise, no. They did what they were expected to do," he said. "There were some times that they played man in the past and did some different things.
"Obviously, we just didn't match the intensity of the game. Just overall, their guys came out with a lot of energy, and we didn't do the same thing. We didn't match the energy at all. As an offense, we didn't take control of the game like we normally would. Getting off the field, three-and-outs, we had a bunch of three-and-outs. A lot of flags. And it seems like I'm talking about the same thing every week. But it is what it is. That's what we're doing. We're killing ourselves. We're getting good drives, then the next thing you know the flags back us up. We didn't do a good job in the red area every time once we got down, putting the ball in the end zone.
"When you start adding those things up, that's what happens with the score, and it leads to losses."
The Steelers did a nice job of stifling the Patriots passing game, but Branch said it's not like the receivers never got open.
Said Branch: "This is the NFL. If you're running a route, my job is to win more than my opponent. That happened. The thing is, sometimes it's the timing. It may be a different look, maybe a little pressure here and there. It's a lot of different things. You can't just sit and say these guys weren't open. That's not true."
As expected, the Steelers defensive backs were physical with the Pats receivers. Branch said he doesn't mind the physical play, but he doesn't like it when a line is crossed.
"I don't mind the aggressiveness. That's cool," he said. "What you [do] mind is all the extra, all the extra stuff behind it. Hey, we're playing football, that's going to happen. I'm going to do some things, they're going to do some things. But there's going to be some extra stuff that happens after certain plays, even through the course of the plays."
Added Branch: "We're always prepared to play that game. I'm cool with that. We know that. That's cool. We don't mind that, the physical play, but do it within the means of the rules. That's what I'm talking about."
Branch acknowledged he gets away with some push-offs just as defenders do, but, "If I'm running around and I'm trying to come out of my break and his arm is standing there holding my jersey, that's different -- him tugging me as I'm running a route. I expect him to tug me and pull my arm. But if I'm breaking, that's different."
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