Following a Ravens loss earlier in the day, the Pittsburgh Steelers are looking to clear some more space between themselves and the rest of the division, but in order to do so, they are going to have to beat the Patriots without Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback. And it didn’t look good early on, as Landry Jones wasted a fumble and good field position by throwing an interception into the end zone.
Tom Brady then led an 80-yard touchdown drive, and it was 14-0 before Jones and the offense responded with a touchdown drive. They almost tied the game on the next drive, but had a touchdown called back, and then missed a field goal. Jones did lead a field goal drive just before halftime to make it a 14-10 game.
On first down, Jarvis Jones pressured Brady into tossing a sidearm pass that looked dangerous to be picked. On second down, he threw behind his receiver for an incompletion. A hold, however, made it second and 20 instead of third and 10. Brady had to scramble for about two yards. Another holding penalty this time was declined to set up a third and 18. Roosevelt Nix was flagged for a hold on the ensuing punt.
From the 24, Bell was able to blow ahead for a seven-yard gain. The Steelers then ran a reverse with Bell giving it to Antonio Brown, picking up a first down.From the 44, Bell patiently cut up the right sideline for 10 yards. Across midfield, Bell cut back for a three-yard gain. He burst up the middle on a draw and spun out of late contact for a first down. Off play action, there was apparently nothing open deep, so Jones checked down to Bell, who powered through a defender for five. He was limited to one yard on second down. On third and four, Xavier Grimble was unable to bring in the pass, but Chris Boswell did manage to make it 14-13.
LeGarrette Blount shook a tackle in the hole and ended up picking 11 on first down. Back to Blount, he found space to the left for a big gain to the Steelers’ 39. This time the defense stepped up and hammered him after a yard. Ross Cockrell threw Julian Edelman out of bounds after two yards. On third and seven, Brady went over the top of Robert Golden to hit Rob Gronkowski down the seam for the 36-yard strike to take a 20-13 lead, following a missed extra point.
Justin Gilbert returned the kickoff beyond the 30-yard line, the third time the Patriots’ strategy of kicking short of the goal line did not work as planned. From the 32, a pass over the middle to Brown went for six. Bell was able to get to the corner and hit the first-down marker for four yards and a first. Brown went to the sideline after the play. Following a false start, Jones connected with Cobi Hamilton for a short gain. On second down, Bell was lucky to get back to the line of scrimmage following a check down about five yards behind the line, gaining one. On third and 10, Hamilton picked the ball off the dirt off a cross-body throw for the first down.
From the Patriots’ 43 now, Bell turned a run for no gain into picking up three yards. Yet another false start, however, backed things up. He got twisted down after two yards on second down. In the meantime, Brown went back into the locker room after working on the stationary bike. On third down, Jones found Hamilton once again down the field to the 26. Bell got hammered at the line of scrimmage to end the third quarter. Jones looked deep for Bell on a go route into the end zone, incomplete. On third down, Jones was under pressure and tried to adjust to lead Brown over the middle but fired incomplete. Boswell hit his third kick of the day to make it a four-point margin again, 20-16.
Edelman once again ran away from Timmons for a first down. Blount added 11 up the left side. Timmons pushed Blount back after five yards, but he couldn’t stop Gronkowski’s forward momentum for the first down.
Gronkowski got past Golden for a big gain of 37 all the way down to the five. Blount slipped in for the score a play later to extend New England’s lead to 27-16.
From the 25, Jones’ pass went off the hands of a defender, and Hamilton nearly came up with the reception off the deflection. Off the draw, Bell picked up four yards to the right side. On third and six, Heyward-Bey dropped the third-down pass, though he would have been short of the marker anyway. Jordan Berry‘s punt was field by Edelman, who lost control of the football and was recovered by Greg Warren. Steven Johnson knocked it out.
From the 43, Bell was stopped on first down. James picked up nine yards to make it third and two. Jones escaped pressure, but could not connect with Bell. Boswell’s attempt from 54 yards was wide right by about the width of the crossbar, setting New England up with good field position.
The Steelers got a sack for a loss of only a couple on first down, but instead accepted a holding penalty. Now from the 34, Blount was surrounded after three yards up the middle. He pushed ahead for about seven yards to set up a third and long. Brady took a hit as he looked to throw deep, well beyond any receiver. The punt went for a touchback.
Maurkice Pouncey‘s hold on first down negated a seven-yard run. The Steelers had to burn a timeout after the penalty. Grimble couldn’t hold on to a ball after hard contact. A quick pass to Brown went for seven. On third and 13, Jones couldn’t find Brown in double coverage. Needing 13 yards, Tomlin chose to punt with under six minutes to play. The 52-yard punt was returned to the 38.
Following a one-yard rush on first down, Blount was able to pound forward for seven. On third and two, they stopped Blount just short. Surprisingly, the Patriots passed up a quarterback sneak on fourth and inches and punted, not a very good one.
Taking over at the 26, a short pass to Bell picked up four yards. He only got another four on second down inbounds. On third and two, Grimble’s reception over the middle at the two-minute warning moved the sticks. An obvious miscommunication led to an incompletion on the first play on the other side of the two-minute warning. On second down, Jones shot wide of Bell running a cross. On third down and 10, Jones escaped pressure just to get off a short pass to heyward-Bey for seven yards. A six-yarder to Bell kept things going.
A quick throw down the field had nobody in the area. Coates was flagged for offensive pass interference on a deep shot on second down. From their own 46 now, Jones dumped it off to Bell for five yards. A short pass to Coates added four. After wasting about 35 seconds without using their last timeout, Jones throw a short crosser to Heyward-Bey behind him, which he dropped. That was a turnover on downs, resulting in the Patriots taking over, and a kneel ended the game.