In one of the most exciting games of the season, the New England Patriots came up just short against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They fell 17 to 10 in a contest that had huge playoff ramifications for both teams. Previously, they had won five straight games against the Black and Yellow including the 2016 AFC Championship Game. The Pats had a shot to keep their slot as the AFC’s number two seed but fell to the third spot. In addition, they have to back to back games in December, a month where they usually run the table, for the first time since 2002. Here is how the Patriots beat themselves in the Steel City.
Patriots Beat Themselves
There are people that will say the Steelers beat the Patriots according to the scoreboard. In reality, it was the team from Foxboro, Massachusetts that defeated themselves. Everybody knows that the Pats are a team that rarely makes mistakes. They force teams into doing things that they’re uncomfortable doing, making miscues and would take advantage of them. However, they were on the other end of those issues.
New England would commit 14 penalties for 106 yards, which is very uncharacteristic of them. Most of those penalties were offensive holdings and false starts that significantly impacted the game. When they reached the red zone three times, they failed to convert it into touchdowns. This was unlike the Patriots we usually see dominate and win football games. These are the little things that are the difference between winning and losing.
Everybody knows that the Steelers have one of the most talented offenses in the league. It showed on Sunday, although the Patriots defense hung in the game. Ben Roethlisberger got off to the great start to the game as he would complete 22 of his 34 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns. Those touchdowns came in the first half to Vance McDonald and the great Antonio Brown.
Big Ben got help from the running game as his team ran for 158 yards on the turf. It was led by rookie fifth-round round pick Jaylen Samuels, who started in place of James Conner again. He ran for a career high 142 yards on 19 carries as Pittsburgh offensive line where creating huge lanes for him to run. Additionally, he contributed in the passing game by having the huge 20 yard reception near the sideline late in their clock killing drive. That would lead to a Chris Boswell field goal.
Brady Under Duress
The Steelers defense are ranked number two in the league in sacks. Their front seven led by T.J. Watt would give Tom Brady all types of pressure in the pocket. Watt, the younger brother of Houston Texans great J.J. Watt, would get to Patriots quarterback once. Brady for all tenses and purposes had a rough day in the office. He went 25 of 36 for 279 yards including the 63-yard bomb to a wide open Chris Hogan for the first quarter touchdown off play action.
However, he would have a costly turnover in the fourth quarter. On second-and-goal from the Steelers 17, Brady got pressured and threw it across the field that was supposed to go out of bounds in Rob Gronkowski‘s direction. But, Joe Haden jumped up and picked off the pass near the sideline. However, he would have one last crack at it as he drove his troops down field but failed to score the game tying touchdown. Gronk, who was held to two receptions for 21 yards was targeted as well as Julian Edelman (seven catches for 90 yards) in the end zone but Pittsburgh’s secondary covered them well.
The Last Word
The Patriots are now 3-5 away from home as they’re in danger of not getting a first-round bye and playing on Wild Card Weekend. Next, their final two games will be at home against divisional opponents Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets. They still can clinch their 10th straight AFC East title with a win versus the Bills next week.
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