Coming into the game, Steelers fans mostly had the quiet resignation of impending disaster. This was the first time since Heinz Field opened in 2001 that the Steelers were touchdown underdogs at home.
The Steelers won the toss and took the ball, but went 3-and-out so it didn’t really matter.
Jarvis Jones showed up early and often in this one, on the first Patriots play he tracked down a receiver in the flat, ripped the ball out, and recovered it for a big turnover to set us up in New England territory.
With the ball in Patriots territory, Landry came out with some confidence and went right after them, zinging one off play-action to AB down the middle to get us into field goal range. Le’Veon got us into the red zone, but on third down Landry tried to force one to AB in double coverage in the end zone and it was picked off.
Well, it was fun while it lasted.
If you didn’t know what was coming next, you obviously have a short memory. The Patriots did what they always do against the Steelers. Brady worked the middle of the field and they got the Steelers into their nickel defense than ran Blount up the middle. New England didn’t even face a third down until they were near midfield, and Brady easily converted that with a check-down to a running back out of the backfield. Blount carried them down into the red zone then Brady picked up another third down with his feet. The defense forced a 3rd and 3, but still did the same thing they always do and didn’t cover a back out of the backfield. In nearly the same play that Gio Bernard scored on for the Bengals and the Eagles ran against us, Brady hit James White who scampered untouched for 20 yards into the end zone.
It’s almost like the Patriots watched film on our tendencies and knew how to exploit them?
DHB got called for a hilariously bad offensive pass interference penalty. Like, it wasn’t even close to pass interference. No way Landry was recovering from a 2nd and 18 situation. Berry managed a good punt though.
It didn’t really matter though as the Patriots drove it right down the field. Artie Burns took a terrible personal foul penalty for suplexing a guy. The defense finally forced a 3rd down on the edge of field goal range, but Brady hit Gronk over the middle to convert. For some reason, Tomlin challenged.
That honestly may have been the worst challenge in Tomlin’s history of bad challenges. It was abundantly clear Gronk caught the ball, was down, and then the ball was ripped out after he was laying on the ground for a good 2 seconds. To make matters worse, they showed the replay multiple times in the stadium before Tomlin threw the flag and he still challenged.
Blount took over from there and pounded his way into the end zone.
The situation looked bleak and it seemed like we could be in for a long night, but on the second play we got a spark when Landry dropped on in to AB on a deep crossing route that he was able to turn upfield and take for 51 yards.
With the ball in the red zone, Le’Veon got us to 3rd and manageable but Landry went for the end zone again and found DHB in the back corner who made a leaping grab for the score.
The defense was able to get off the field on third down when a swing pass to a wide open running back was dropped. To make things even better, the Pats shanked the punt so we got the ball at midfield.
Things were suddenly looking up after a 15-yard penalty on New England put us in field goal range. Le’Veon carried us down into the red zone. On third down, Landry hit DHB on a shallow cross and he was able to turn it up and get into the end zone, but a penalty flag brought the play back. Some people wanted to complain about the holding call, but Chris Hubbard basically tackled the defensive end, so it is what it is. Landry missed AB and Boswell missed a 42-yard field goal.
In case you were wondering, that was the 6th missed field goal the Steelers have had against the Patriots since 2007, the most against any team.
It looked like the Patriots were going to drive the ball right back down the field again, but Edelman dropped a pass on third down at midfield that forced a punt. The side judge made a terrible call, ruling that the ball had been touched by the Patriots inside the 5, even though they never downed it and it rolled into the end zone. The replay review team waited until after the commercial break when the Steelers offense had already broken the huddle to signal for a review. Upon review, it was ruled a touchback and we got the ball on the 20.
Those 15 yards made a difference, as Landry was able to get the ball to Le’Veon and work our way up the field. A short pass to DHB converted a 3rd down at midfield then Le’Veon made some moves and broke some tackles to get us down into field goal range. Jessee James got a catch on the sideline to get us into the red zone, but the Steelers only had 11 seconds left. Landry took one shot for DHB in the end zone that was broken up, then Boswell came out and converted.
All things considered, it could have been worse after the 14-0 start. However, if not for the interception and missed field goal, the Steelers would’ve been up 16-14. Two sides to every coin, or something.
The Steelers defense came out with a fire under their ass and forced two holding penalties and a short scramble by Brady to avoid a sack. A 3-and-out to start the quarter was just what the doctor ordered.
What the defense started, the offense answered. The O-line got into a groove and startede pushing the Pats off the ball. Le’Veon was getting big chunks and AB picked up 13 yards on a reverse. The Steelers had to waste a timeout because they couldn’t get a play call in, but were still able to grind the ball into long field goal range. Boswell hit from 46.
Suddenly, it was a 1-point game (and you were thinking we could be winning at this point if not for the two mis-steps in the first half). That good feeling started to dissipate as LeGarrette Blount went for 11 and 25 to get New England across midfield. The defense looked like it was going to lock things down, but then Brady went over the top on 3rd and 7 and hit Gronk wide open behind the safeties for a 36-yard score.
Gostkowski missed the extra point to keep it a 7-point game.
The next drive started with a seemingly nondescript pass to AB over the middle, but he got up a little gimpy and went to the sideline to have his hamstring checked. This left us with DHB, Sammie Coates, and Cobi Hamilton running routes for Landry Jones. Yet somehow, Landry got rolling. It’s possibly that Landry was actually more comfortable throwing to the second-stringers as they are the guys he practices with on a day-to-day basis. Either way, it became the Cobi Hamilton show as Hamilton made a big grab for 15 yards to convert a 3rd down then another 17-yarder a few plays later to get us into field goal range.
Aaron Burr sucks too BTW
Two incompletions led to a Boswell field goal but things still weren’t totally out of hand.
Not to beat a dead horse, but that red zone INT and the missed field goal from the first half sure loomed large right now.
Unfortunately, the defense couldn’t hold up their end. The coaches constantly talk about allowing short passes to prevent big plays. On the last drive, they gave up a big play by letting Gronk run right down the seam. On this drive, they did it again as Gronk caught another ball wide open in the middle of the field and took it all the way down to the 5. Blount punched it in.
Hope started to dwindle as the Steelers went 3-and-out, but Julian Edelman fumbled on the punt return and the Steelers recovered, giving them new life in New England territory. Long snapper Greg Warren recovered.
Jesse James picked up 8 yards but Landry and Le’Veon couldn’t hook up on 3rd down. Rather than going for it on 4th and 2 at the Patriots 36 down by two scores, Tomlin elected to try a 54-yard field goal.
Boswell missed, and as so often happens in these situations, the Steelers would never get back to that point on the field. Additionally, that missed field goal meant the Steelers got 0 points off of two Patriots turnovers, something you simply can not do aginst New England.
A holding penalty on the Pats stalled out their drive, but they were content to just run time off the clock and punt.
The Steelers answered with their own holding penalty, that pretty much put that drive behind the 8-ball. If Tomlin wasn’t going for it on 4th and 2 at the Pats 36, he certainly wasn’t going for it on 4th and 13 at his own 17.
The Steelers punted and the Pats handed off to Blount 3 times to take 2 minutes off the clock. The Steelers did come up with a stop on 3rd and short and got the ball back with 3 minutes to play. The Pats went into a shell defense so the Steelers were forced into checking it down to Bell to work it down the field. They did get out across midfield and took a shot deep for Coates which was knocked away. Another hilariously bad offensive pass interference flag was thrown, just for good measure.
Fun fact, earlier in the game, this wasn’t flagged:
In case you were wondering what is Pass Interference…..
The Steelers drive stalled out at midfield with under a minute to go. Landry couldn’t connect with DHB on a 4th down and that was all she wrote.
Brady kneeled it out.
See yinz after the bye.