The Pittsburgh Steelers have, at times, looked dominant during their nine-game winning streak. What is even more impressive about that fact is that the final five games of that winning streak involved rematches against teams that they had previously played earlier in the season, whether they won or lost the previous matchup.
They were 5-0 in their five previous meetings against teams that they had previously faced, first taking care of business at the conclusion of the regular season by rallying or comeback victorious against their three division rivals: first the Bengals, then the Ravens—the game that won the division—and then the Browns, in overtime, with several key starters resting.
It all continued into the playoffs, as the Steelers began by getting revenge against the Dolphins, the team that injured Ben Roethlisberger’s knee and helped ignite a four-game losing streak that very nearly derailed Pittsburgh’s season after starting 4-1.
They throttled Miami in Pittsburgh, but had a tougher time of putting the Chiefs away a week later in Kansas City. They still came away with the 18-16 victory after failing to score a single touchdown in seven trips inside the Chiefs’ 30-yard line—and after getting a holding call on a successful two-point conversion that would have tied the game.
But the revenge that they got in their second games against the Ravens and the Dolphins did not sustain them for the one final loss that they had left to avenge, tonight up in Foxboro against the New England Patriots. In fact, it was one of the worst games that they had played all season.
The Patriots looked very much the way that the Patriots typically do—especially, it seems, whenever they are playing the Steelers—as Tom Brady and company once again dominated an overmatched defense that seemed ill-prepared to defend their shifty wide receivers with their young secondary.
There is really no effective way to sugarcoat just how much the Steelers were dominated by New England, in fact. It was a performance that flew in the face of the pre-game statistic that was floating around that showed that the Patriots were 12-0 against opponents that they had not faced during the regular season, but only 11-9 otherwise.
Personally, I had expected the Steelers to play a much more disciplined game, but instead they looked lost frequently on defense, and Brady took advantage. Two late offensive turnovers certainly did not help matters, but really, the defense was never in the game practically from the beginning.
Of course, it should probably be pointed out that the Patriots are a really good team, and have been playing really well. After today’s win, they have won nine in a row, and 16 games in total, losing only two. Only once with Brady. But still, the loss doesn’t feel any better just because the opponent is good.