The Pittsburgh Steelers made a valiant go of it there for a while, especially after falling into an early 14-0 hole, but at the end of the day, they walked off of the Heinz Field grass in defeat at the hands of the visiting New England Patriots. It’s easy to look for narratives in a 27-16 loss, even when you are playing with your backup quarterback, but one glaring one comes to mind: missed opportunities.
Specifically, blown chances for points off of turnovers, affectionately having become known as POOTOS, and the Steelers had two golden opportunities to put points on the board as a result of a pair of turnovers that they were unable to take advantage of.
The worst part about that, of course, was the fact that both of those turnovers occurred on Patriots territory, so, in reality, the offense was not far from scoring range when they first got the ball to begin with. And they did manage to score on four other drives, after all.
The first opportunity for points off of turnovers came early, when on New England’s opening drive Chris Hogan caught a pass for 11 yards on first down, but was stripped of the ball by outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who was also able to recover the fumble that he himself produced.
That turnover let the offense take over at the Patriots’ own 45-yard line, and on the first play of the drive, Landry Jones hit Antonio Brown for a 25-yard gain, down to the 20-yard line. But a false start followed, and the offense only got to the 19-yard line when Jones threw an interception in the end zone in Brown’s direction on third and six, meaning that they were not even able to get a 38-yard field goal out of the deal.
After the touchback, New England’s offense responded with a methodical 13-play drive that ended with a 19-yard touchdown reception to a running back on what was one of just two plays on the drive that went for 10 or more yards, taking up over seven minutes of clock time.
The Patriots added another touchdown, but through the next two quarters, the Steelers were able to cut the deficit to 14-13 before giving up another touchdown. The offense went three-and-out on the ensuing drive, but Steven Johnson forced a fumble on the punt return, with long snapper Greg Warren recovering at New England’s 43-yard line.
This time, there was no chunk play to start the drive, and, in fact, they were not able to move much at all, excepting an eight-yard reception following a loss of one that brought them to the 36. From there, second-year kicker Chris Boswell was brought on to attempt a 54-yard field goal, which he missed badly to the right.
Considering the fact that they lost by 11 points, and the Steelers offense began two drives within 45 yards of the goal line due to turnovers, but brought away no points to show for it, it would be safe to say that this will be one of the narratives to take out of the game.