The Pittsburgh Steelers have long been viewed as a physical football club. On Sunday, during an interview with WEEI, New England Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch criticized the Steelers for being too physical.
"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."
After thirteen straight games of scoring at least 30 points, one game shy of tying the NFL record, the Patriots have now been held to 20 or fewer points in two consecutive contests. They are still tied atop the AFC East with a 5-2 record, but Branch does not like the way New England competed Sunday.
"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."