Below are 10 game-defining plays in the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 7 loss to the New England Patriots.
10 – The Patriots offense was closing in on the end zone with 11 minutes left in the first half. They had a first and goal from the Steelers’ three-yard line. Patriots’ running back LeGarrette Blount took the handoff to the left side and proceeded to break simultaneous tackle attempts by Lawrence Timmons and Robert Golden for a touchdown run. Blount’s run finished off the Patriots 2nd drive of 80 or more yards in the first half and made the score 14-0
9 – On 3rd and 3 with less than 3 minutes left in the first quarter the Patriots offense was driving up the field with ease. Tom Brady threw a perfect screen pass to running back James White who ran 19 yards into the end zone untouched. This pass capped off a 13 play 80-yard drive and was the first score of the game.
8 – Tom Brady was leading the Patriots on another extended drive at the start of the first quarter. A penalty and an incompletion had the Patriots’ offense facing 3rd and 9 at the Steelers’ 26-yard line. Brady had four full seconds in the pocket before hitting tight end Rob Gronkowski for a 12-yard completion and the Patriots’ fifth 3rd down conversion on as many attempts. Making matters worse was Mike Tomlin decision to challenge the catch, costing the Steelers a time out that could have come in handy later in the half.
7 – Landry Jones and the Steelers’ offense were operating the two-minute offense as the clock ticked down before halftime. On a 2nd and 3 with under a minute left Jones threw a perfect pass to wide receiver Cobi Hamilton who had his man beat. Logan Ryan, the Patriots’ corner who was in coverage grabbed Hamilton’s left wrist ensuring that if he was going to make the catch it was going to be one handed. Hamilton tried to do just that, but with no success. The referees just flat missed a pass interference call that worst scenario, would have set the offense up inside the Patriots red zone, or best scenario, would have been a touchdown reception by Hamilton.
6 – Early in the first quarter the Steelers offense faced a 3rd and 6. They were attempting to take advantage of good field position and score points off of a Chris Hogan fumble. Landry Jones threw a pass into the end zone to Antonio Brown that was intercepted by Patriots cornerback Malcom Butler. This was a decisive play that kept the Steelers from making the Patriots pay for a turnover that set the offense up with a short field.
5 – The Patriots were up 20-16 with 12 minutes left in the game and the Steelers’ defense was again struggling to find a way to get a stop. On 1st and 10 from the Steelers 42-yard line, Tom Brady ran a play action fake and found Gronkowski wide open as Golden struggled to cover him. The Steelers managed to keep Gronkowski out of the end zone as the play went for 37 yards but it set up a Blount touchdown on the very next play.
4 – With the Steelers looking to respond to two unanswered touchdowns by the Patriots, the offense faced a 3rd and 4 from the Patriots fourteen-yard line. With 9 minutes left in the first half the Patriots rushed three defenders and gave Landry Jones time to go through his progressions. The result? A fourteen-yard touchdown pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey that cut the Patriots’ lead to 14-7.
3 – After the Steelers’ offense had come to life and ran off 13 straight points, it was the Patriots’ turn to answer. They faced a 3rd and 7 from the Steelers 36-yard line. Brady dropped back, had no pass rush to deal with and took his time finding Rob Gronkowski matched up one on one with Golden on a seam route that resulted in a 36-yard touchdown pass.
2 – The Patriots were ahead by 11 points with 10 minutes left in the game when Julian Edelman fumbled a Jordan Berry punt. Steelers long snapper Greg Warren recovered the ball and gave the Steelers offense great field position. The offense couldn’t hold up its end of the bargain though as they gained seven yards and then sent kicker Chris Boswell out to attempt a 54-yard field goal that missed so badly it didn’t even hit the field goal net. Instead, it went sailing into the seats at Heinz Field.
1 – Exactly five minutes remained before half time and the Steelers offense had once again moved the ball to the Patriots’ 14-yard line. The down and distance was 3rd and 3 and the Patriots’ defense rushed three linemen. Jones connected with Heyward-Bey on a crossing route that the wide receiver took into the end zone. But the play would not stand. It was wiped out by a holding call against right tackle Chris Hubbard. This forced the Steelers to settle for a field goal two plays later, but the kick was missed wide right by Chris Boswell. Not only was this another trip into the red zone by the Steelers’ offense with no points to show, it seemed like a missed chance to swing momentum in the Steelers’ favor. The offense’s worst enemy seemed to be themselves.