The Pittsburgh Steelers enter the second half trailing 14-3, a score shaped largely through their own errors. Tom Brady‘s first of two touchdown passes to Rob Gronkowski with 10 men on the field and nobody covering the tight end initially. A pair of missed field goals and poor decision-making and clock management limited other opportunities.
Antonio Brown recorded five receptions for 64 yards in the first half, extended his 5-50 streak to 33 games. DeAngelo Williams also opened with an impressive first half, recording 54 yards on 10 carries. Darrius Heyward-Bey converted third- and fourth-down opportunities, including a 43-yard pass, but a touchdown reception was negated with the toes of his right foot sliding out of bounds.
Rookie first-round outside linebacker recorded a sack on a third-down play. Jarvis Jones also showed signs of progress, though he did have a missed tackle. Keith Butler has been using nearly everybody on the defense in and out, which certainly has contributed to communication breakdowns.
Josh Scobee, who missed two of three field goals in the first half, sent the opening kickoff of the half through the back of the end zone. From the 20, Antwon Blake allowed Julian Edelman to slip by him for a first down. Dion Lewis picked up about four yards through the middle on the following play. Ryan Shazier brought down Brandon Bolden after a one-yard gain, taking advantage of his speed. On third and five, Edelman beat Blake once again for a first down.
Lewis picked up about 10 yards on the following play down to the Steelers’ 44. Dupree made the tackle after nine yards on the next snap. Danny Amendola moved the chains on a short pass. Cortez Allen was flagged for pass interference on a deep pass in the end zone to set up first and goal at the one. Shazier made the tackle on first down. Scott Chandler flexed into the slot and ran a flat for the touchdown.
Williams managed to break off a long run for 28 yards on first down. From the 48, Ben Roethlisberger found Brown for a 33-yard pass down to the 19. Williams picked up seven yards on first down, and then nine yards to set up first and goal. At the line, Williams was able to back in for one yard. On second and goal, Will Johnson got the carry, but could not get in. Johnson scored on the following play for his first rushing touchdown of his career. The Steelers now trail 21-9. The Steelers went for two points, hitting Markus Wheaton to make it 21-11.
Blake missed yet another tackle, with Lewis picking up about 14 yards. William Gay read the play on the next snap, however, tackling the catch for a loss of six. On second down, Edelman caught an 11-yard pass by Gay for a third and manageable. Will Allen recorded the sack on the blitz to force the punt. Brown had nowhere to go on the return, tackled at the 27-yard line.
Williams showed speed to get out to the edge for another nice gain of 12 yards. Another five yards on the ground for Williams on the following play, but he was caught for a loss trying to find the right edge. On third and six, Roethlisberger and Brown connected as he went over 100 receiving yards.
From the Patriots’ 45, Roethlisberger bought time to find Wheaton, with his feet inbounds, for 26 yards. Williams got the tote and threaded his way through traffic for five yards to the 14. Miller caught his fifth pass of the game to set up first and goal.
From the eight, with four wide, Roethlisberger handed off to Williams from the pistol for no gain. On second and goal, Roethlisberger rolled out and shoveled a pass to Miller for four yards. On third and goal, Patrick Chung was flagged for pass interference in the end zone on coverage against Miller. Roosevelt Nix and Johnson back in, Roethlisberger play faked and threw the ball out of the end zone. On second down, Johnson came up inches short of the goal line. A false start moved a third and inches to third and six. Williams was taken down at the line of scrimmage. Scobee’s second field goal cut the deficit to seven, but there is no excuse for the Steelers not coming away with a touchdown.
Starting from the 21, Brady took advantage of a clear miscommunication to hit Gronkowski for 52 yards, with Mike Mitchell contributing with a bad angle. After an incompletion on another deep pass, Lewis took the ball down to the 22. On third and five, Lewis escaped from Lawrence Timmons, then fumbled, with Gronkowski recovering the fumble in the end zone for first and goal at the six-inch line. On first and goal, Bolden was stopped for a bit of a loss. Allen with the fill. On second and goal, play action led to another pass to Gronkowski, but he came down out of bounds. On third and goal, Gronkowski got over the top of Terence Garvin for a 28-14 lead.
Williams picked up seven yards on first down after a touchback. Roethlisberger could not connect with Brown on the following play. On third and three, he threw behind Wheaton, sending Jordan Berry out, fair caught at the 36, backed up to the 26 following a penalty. Shazier made the run stop on first down. On second and 12, Gronkowski was out of bounds on a reception down the sideline. On third and 12, Timmons batted down the ball to force a punt. Illegal formation forced a rekick after a very good punt.
From the 35, Roethlisberger found Wheaton on a corner route for 18 yards. Roethlisberger let one rip down the field, but was intercepted by the nickel back. The Patriots took over at the seven.
Blake cut up to make the tackle against the run after a short gain. On second down, Brady found Gronkowski just short of the first. Cortez Allen was flagged for holding, however, for an automatic first down. Cameron Heyward made the tackle on first down. Edelman got by Allen for first down yardage on a catch short of the sticks. After a pair of short gains on the ground, on third and four, Lewis dropped a lob pass to force the Patriots to punt. A hold added 10 yards on top of a touchback.
From the 30-yard line, Roethlisberger escaped pressure but threw low to Miller on the run for an incompletion. On second down, Heyward-Bey was good for nine yards. A short pass to Miller led into the two-minute warning when the Steelers could not get a play off.
The secondary converged on Wheaton on an incompletion down the field. On second down, Roethlisberger hit Heyward-Bey on a short pass but could not get out of bounds. On third and long, Brown converted. From the 39, a Brown reception was negated by a penalty on Kelvin Beachum. On first and 20, Beachum allowed a sack. A pass to Miller picked up 18 to make it third and nine. The pass on third down thudded off of Wheaton. On fourth down, Roethlisberger escaped pressure to find Tyler Murphy. With 11 seconds left, an 11-yard gain to Wheaton. Roethlisberger connected with Brown in the back of the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown. The Patriots recovered the onside kick as the clock expired.