Ryan L. Fox
It just like the past few years, there are 3 certain things: death, taxes, and the Pittsburgh Steelers losing to the New England Patriots. Since 2011, the New England Patriots have won 5 of the last meetings between the two teams with some of those being in dominate fashion or the Steelers choking away the game, including last year’s matchup between the two teams.
Going into this game, the Patriots were looking to rebound after their loss in Miami while the Steelers were looking to end a 3 game losing streak. With playoff spots and divisional titles on the line for both squads, a loss would be devastating. But when the final gun was shot, only one team was able to walk away with their head held high and improve their playoff chances.
The Patriots kicked the ball off to begin game as K Stephen Gostkowski booted the ball into the end zone.
The Steelers began on their own 25 as QB Ben Roethlisberger led the offense down the field. But the biggest play during the drive came on 2nd and 4 on the Pittsburgh 42. There, Steelers rookie RB Jaylen Samuels took the hand off and nearly outran the entire Patriots defense down to the New England 33 for 25 yards. The Steelers got all the way down to the New England 5 where on 3rd and goal, Roethlisberger found TE Vance McDonald in the end zone for the touchdown. Steelers K Chris Boswell booted the PAT through to give the Steelers the early 7-0 lead.
The Patriots wasted no time after getting the ball back on their own 25 after the ensuing kickoff. The Patriots were able to move the ball up to their own 37. This included getting a 5 yard ‘Defensive Too Many Men on Field’ penalty on the Steelers on a 3rd and short to get the 1st down. Then on 1st and 10 from their own 37, QB Tom Brady found WR Chris Hogan deep on the right side line around the Pittsburgh 42 practically uncovered. Hogan then proceeded to outrun the Steelers defense all the way for the touchdown. Gostkowski PAT booted the PAT after as the game was tied 7-7.
After the teams exchanged punts with one another, the Steelers got the ball back on their own 8. However a holding penalty backed them up to their own 4. But Roethlisberger was able to find WR Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster for a 22 yard pass on 2nd and 14 to the Steelers 26. The two hooked up again for a 9 yard pass to the Pittsburgh 35 to end the 1st quarter.
The 2nd quarter began as the Steelers continued to drive down the field. They were assisted by a 26 yard pass interference penalty on 2nd and 4 on the New England 43 as the ball was put the New England 17. From there, Roethlisberger found WR Antonio Brown for the 17 yard touchdown pass. Boswell booted the PAT through as the Steelers regain the lead 14-7.
After forcing a Patriots punt, the Steelers got the ball on their own 1 yard line. However former Patriots RB and current Steelers RB Stevan Ridley gave his team some breathing room with a 12 yard run to the Pittsburgh 13. A 24 yard pass to Brown and a 17 yard run by Samuels put the ball on the New England 46. But on 2nd and 10 from there, Roethlisberger pass to Smith-Schuster was picked off by Patriots S Duron Harmon at the New England 24.
However the Patriots could not do anything and were forced to punt. The two teams then continued to exchange punts with one another as Steelers got the ball back with 21 seconds left in the half. However they elected to take the knee and go into halftime, still leading 14-7.
When the second half began, the Patriots got the ball to start.
They began their first drive of the half at their own 25 but could only move the ball up to their own 42 before being forced to punt.
The Steelers got the ball at their own 21 for their first possession of the half. Roethlisberger opened things up as he connected with WR James Washington for 2 big plays on the drive. The first play was a 32 yard pass to the New England 43 on 2nd and 6 at their own 25. The next play after that was a 24 yard catch and run to the New England 18 on 2nd and 9 from the New England 42. Samuels then carried the ball all the way down to the New England 4 as the Steelers were set up with 1st and goal from there. However a run for no gain, an intentional grounding penalty, and an incompletion into the end zone left the Steelers to face 4th and goal on the New England 14. They elected to kick the field goal as Boswell trotted on for the 32 yard attempt. Unfortunately he botched the kick wide right as the Patriots took over at their own 22.
The Patriots were able to successfully able to move the ball up to their own 35. But then 2 penalties in a row back them up to their own 25. After an 11 yard pass to Edelman to their own 36, Brady was sacked for a 9 yard loss by Steelers LB T.J. Watt as the Patriots faced 3rd and long on their own 29. Brady’s pass to Hogan looked to be incomplete but he was interfered with Steelers CB Joe Haden at midfield, giving the Patriots a crucial 1st down. From there, Brady handed it off to RB Sony Michel and RB Rex Burkhead as the offense got all the way down to the Pittsburgh 13. There, on 3rd and 4, Brady’s pass to Edelman fell short of the 1st down mark. A false start penalty backed the Patriots to the Pittsburgh 10 where they ended up settling for a 33 yard field goal by Gostkowski to make it 14-10 with under 20 seconds left in the 3rd quarter.
The Steelers got the ball back with 17 seconds left in the quarter on their own 25. They were able to get as far up to their own 31 as the quarter came to a close.
When the 4th quarter began, it was Samuels leading the way with a 15 yard run to the Pittsburgh 46 and then a 4 yard run to midfield. After an incompletion on 1st down, Roethlisberger dropped back to pass on 2nd down looking for Brown over the right side. However Brown couldn’t hold onto the football as he ended up bobbling it and into the waiting hands of Harmon at the New England 41.
From there, Brady looked to try to get his team back on the winning track. He drove the offense down to the Pittsburgh 5. But on 1st and goal there, the Patriots were hit with a holding call on RT Marcus Cannon that backed them up to the Pittsburgh 15. A botched screen pass to RB James White (it went for -1 yards) and the Patriots were faced with 2nd and goal on the Pittsburgh 16. But on the ensuing play, Brady’s pass to Edelman was picked off by Haden at the Pittsburgh 4.
After their defense made a big play, the Steelers offense tried to convert the turnover into points. They were able to drive all the way down to the New England 34. But a 3 yard run by Ridley on 1st down, a 1 yard run by Samuels on 2nd down, and an incomplete pass on 3rd down left the Steelers with 4th and 6 at the New England 30. Boswell then came on to attempt a 48 yard field goal. This time around, he booted it through the uprights to give his team a 17-10 lead with a little over 2 and a half minutes left in the game.
With little time left and needing a touchdown to tie and send the game into overtime, the Patriots took over at their own 25. They were able to get to their own 40 before the game was stopped due to the 2 minute warning. After the 2 minute warning and a false start penalty, Brady found Edelman deep over the middle for a 34 yard pass to the Pittsburgh 31. Going no huddle, Brady found White on 3 consecutive pass plays as the Patriots got all the way down to the Pittsburgh 11. But on 2nd and 5 from there, RG Shaq Mason was called for a holding penalty that backed the ball up to the Pittsburgh 21. After two consecutive incomplete passes to TE Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots were faced with 4th and 15 with 20 seconds left in the game. Brady heaved a desperate, last prayer pass to Edelman near the goal line. But it was knocked away along with the Patriots’ chances of a victory.
Roethlisberger took the victory formation kneel as the Steelers were able to redeem their past, crushing losses to the Patriots with a morale-crushing 17-10 victory.
Notable Patriot Statistical Standouts
QB Tom Brady: 22-for-34 for 235 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT for a QB Rating of 89.9
RB Sony Michel: 13 carries for 59 yards
WR Chris Hogan: 2 catches (on 3 targets) for 68 yards and 1 TD
WR Julian Edelman: 7 catches (on 11 targets) for 90 yards
S Duron Harmon: 1 tackle (1 solo, 0 assist), 2 INT
LB Kyle Van Noy: 3 tackles (3 solo, 0 assist), 1.0 sacks
CB Jonathan Jones: 5 tackles (5 solo, 0 assist), 1.0 sacks
Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!
8 – The number of consecutive games Ben Roethlisberger has thrown an interception against the Patriots
5 – The career number of interceptions that S Duron Harmon has against the Steelers
14 – The number of penalties the Patriots accumulated for the entire game, a season high
106 – The number of penalty yards accumulated by the Patriots, a season high as well
142 – The number of rushing yards by Steelers RB Jaylen Samuels, the most allowed to an opposing running back this season
.375– The winning percentage of the Patriots this season (3-5)
10 – The number of points the Patriots scored for the entire game, the third time that has happened this season (scored 10 points against the Detroit Lions on the road in Week 3 and against the Tennessee Titans in Week 10)
16 – The total number of points the Patriots scored in 6 quarters (6 points in the 2nd half of the Miami game and 10 for this game)
Fox Fist Bump
Slim pickings this week but I’ve decided to give it to S Duron Harmon. His two picks of Roethlisberger during the game were actually drive killing plays that, more likely than not, would have lead to points. It wasn't his fault that his offense couldn't convert his plays int better scoring opportunities.
The Meatball of the Week
I know it’s ‘Tis the Season to be giving’ but holy crap, I’ve been giving out more meatballs in two weeks than I ever did during the previous 12. But because Christmas is less than 10 days away, I’ve decided to give out lumps of coal instead of meatballs.
The first lump goes to the Patriots run defense. Oh my lord, were they just absolutely putrid. How in god’s green earth can you allow a 3rd string (yes, you read that right folks) to rush for 142 yards. You would think they would buckle down after giving up a total of 189 rushing yards to the Miami Dolphins last week. But nope, they just allowed to get run all over. Seriously, my old high school football team could run against this defense.
The next lump of coal goes to the Patriots offensive line. Not for their protection of Brady but the fact they kept getting so many bonehead penalties, including a couple that cost the Patriots (see final drive as an example). The worse was LT Trent Brown, who got called for multiple false start penalties. You’re in the damn huddle, you should know the damn snap count.
Finally, I give the entire sack of coal to the entire Patriots organization for their abysmal play on the road this season. Holy crap. They finished 2018 with a 3-5 road record, a complete 180 of their 6-0 record at home. The Patriots have scored an average of 21.6 ppg on the road, including 4 games where they scored 20 points or less (0-4 in those games) and allowed their opponents to score 24 ppg, including 5 games where they allowed their opponents to score 25 or more points (1-5). Pathetic, absolutely pathetic.
Play of the Game
Hogan For a Gyro
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