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Pittsburgh Steelers vs New England Patriots Postgame Analysis

Final Score:

Patriots 27 ? Steelers 24

Passing Stats:

Quarterback Completions Attempts Yards QBRating
Tom Brady 22 34 298 90.1
Ben Roethlisberger 22 30 282 110.7

Receiving Stats:

JuJu Smith-Schuster: 6 receptions for 114 yards

Martavis Bryant: 4 reception for 59 yards – 1 Touchdown

Le ?Veon Bell: 5 receptions for 58 yards

Antonio Brown: 2 receptions for 24 yards

Eli Rogers: 1 reception for 18 yards – 1 Touchdown

Xavier Grimble: 1 reception for 8 yards

Jesse James: 2 receptions for 7 yards

Darrius Heyward-Bey – 1 reception for 4 yards

Rushing Stats:

Le ?Veon Bell: 24 rushes for 117 yards, Avg: 4.9 yards ? 1 Touchdown

James Conner: 3 rushes for 13 yards, Avg: 4.3 yards

Ben Roethlisberger: 3 rushes for 10 yards, Avg: 3.3 yards

Fitzgerald Toussaint: 1 rush for 3 yards, Avg: 3.0 yards

Kicking Stats:

Chris Boswell ? FGM: 1 for 1, PCT: 100%, XPM ? 3 , 6 PTS.

Game Summary:

In unquestionably the most important game of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 season, two of the most decorated quarterbacks in modern history engaged in a contest that was one for the ages. In the end, it was an overturned touchdown and an interception which helped quarterback Tom Brady and his New England Patriots escape Heinz field Sunday evening with a 27-24 victory. The loss ended the Steelers 8-game winning streak and gave the Patriots their 5th consecutive win against the Steelers, dating back to the 2013 season.

The Patriots did not waste time getting on the board first, with a 6-play, 77 yard drive featuring a 43-yard completion to Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks and 1-yard touchdown run by Patriots running back Rex Burkhead. On the next series the Steelers offense responded, first starting with a 13-yard reception by running back Le’Veon Bell, then a 19-yard reception to All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown, who left the game in second quarter with a shin injury after colliding with Patriots safety Eric Rowe. A 13-yard completion to rookie receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster kept the drive moving until it was finally completed with an 18-yard touchdown pass to receiver Eli Rogers, tying the game at 7 apiece.

In the second quarter the Steelers offense was on the move again, driving downfield after Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger found receiver Martavis Bryant for a big 39-yard completion to continue the drive. After the incompletion to Brown and an 8-yard sack by Patriots defensive lineman Trey Flowers, Steelers kicker Chris Boswell successfully converted a 51-yard field goal, giving the Steelers a 10-7 lead midway in the second quarter. On the ensuing Patriots possession, Brady connected with All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski for 31 yards, putting his team in Steelers territory. The Steelers defense stood tall, courtesy of play from defensive back Mike Hilton and defensive end Stephon Tuitt, forcing the Patriots to settle for a field goal, tying the game at 10 apiece. On their next possession, the Steelers put together a drive that lasted over 8 minutes, culminating in a highlight worthy one-handed touchdown reception by Bryant, giving the Steelers their first lead of the game before the end of the half.

In the third quarter, the Patriots offense responded quickly on their possesion with a 12-play, 75 yard drive which featured completions to Cooks, running back Dion Lewis, and a 22-yard completion to Gronkowski. After the failed point-after attempt, the Steelers maintained a 17-16 lead. Following a failed series by the Steelers offense, the defense would come up with one of the biggest plays of the game, when Brady’s pass intended for running back James White was intercepted by linebacker Vince Williams, placing the Steelers in Patriots territory.

On the following possession, the Steelers offense took advantage of the Patriots mistake, courtesy of Bell’s 3-yard touchdown run, giving the Steelers a 24-16 lead late in the quarter.

After forcing the Steelers to punt on their first possesion for the fourth quarter, the Patriots offense put together an 8-play, 44 yard drive which failed to convert as a result of Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree‘s sack on 3rd and 10. The Patriots settled for the field goal, cutting the lead to 5. Late in the fourth down 5 points, the Patriots offense got the best of the Steelers defense with successive 26-yard completions to Gronkowski, a 17-yard completion to Gronkowski, and ended with an 8-yard touchdown run by Lewis; the successful 2-point conversion gave the Patriots a 27-24 lead with only 56 seconds remaining in the contest.

On the next series, which is one that will likely be debated about for years to come, Roethlisberger found Smith-Schuster in the slot, and with a few moves was able to get past the Patriots defenders and pick up a huge 69-yard gain with only 52 seconds remain. On the next play Roethlisberger found tight end Jesse James who dove into the end zone, which seemed at the time as the game winning touchdown. When further reviewed, the played was deemed incomplete as they concluded that James did not have complete control of the ball after hitting the ground. On the last play of the game, Roethlisberger’s pass intended for Rogers on his fake spike attemp, was intercepted by Patriots safety Duron Harmon, stealing what many believe should have been a victory for the Steelers.

On offense, the story of the game was All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell, who demonstrated in a variety of ways why he is arguably the premier running back in the NFL. On this evening, he accounted for a total of 175 all-purpose yards ( 117 on the ground, 58 in the air). During the course of the game, the Patriots had few answers for him as he was the workhorse many have grown accustomed to him being in every game. Rookie receiver Juju Smith-Schuster was not as visible through much of the game, but in crunch time came up with another big-time play with his 69-yard catch-and-run late in the fourth quarter. Smith-Schuster ended with 114 yards on just 6 receptions. Martavis Bryant played a big role in the first half of the game, often beating Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore in one-one-one battles. He ended the game with 59 receiving yards and a touchdown.

Though they had difficulty through much of the game containing Gronkowski, the Steelers defense had several standout players throughout the course of the game. Steelers defensive back Mike Hilton consistently made big plays, notably a breakup of a touchdown catch from Gronkowski. Hilton finished with 5 total tackles and 2 passes defended. Steelers defensive captain Cameron Heyward finished the game with a tackle, a pass defended and a sack that set the tone for the defense. Linebacker Vince Williams finished the day with 3 total tackles and an interception that was later converted into points. Lastly, outside linebacker Bud Dupree accounted for 2 tackles and a sack that relegated the Patriots offense to a field goal on one of their drives late in the game.

Postgame Commentary:

For viewers that watched this game, you received a glimpse of the two of the best teams in the AFC going head-to-head, in a ‘clash of the titans’ type of game. In the end, what should have been a glorious occasion for Steelers fans was soured by an overtuned call that many will debate for days and weeks to come. In fighting sports, they general rule of thumb is to never leave the match up to the judges to decide. The idea is such to motivate one or the other to unanimously beat their opponent, casting no doubts on the victor. The Steelers in this game made the mistake of putting the game into the hands of the referee. With a 24-16 lead, there were many opportunities squandered leading to that unfortunate final sequence. Sean Davis’ dropped interception was such an opportunity that could have resulted in a much different ending for instance. The 23-yard penalty leading to a field goal cutting the lead to 5 was another. And then there was the series of 26-yard completions to Rob Gronkowski, leading to the go-ahead touchdown for the Patriots late in the game.

One of the things I have learned about this Patriots team is that any mistakes you make, any window opportunity made available to them, they will seize it before you even realize it; thus the margin of error against a team like this is very small.

No question the Steelers has been playing all year against the odds — Ryan Shazier’s possible career-ending injury a few weeks back against the Bengals, watching the best receiver in football Antonio Brown go down with an injury (reported as a partially torn calf muscle). This team has been resilient all year long and fans like myself appreciate it. However, if this team wants to beat a team like the Patriots, more is required of them, more than is even reasonable, to be honest. As it stands, this team is still in a good spot to clinch a 1st round bye; however, it will be interesting to see in the upcoming days how much of a toll this game took out from them. With that being said, the real season begins now and the obstacles are going to be greater from this point onwards. The question pending — are the Steelers able to rise above adversity and reach the ultimate prize ? Stay tuned.

Steelers Play of the Game:

Juju Smith-Schuster in crunch time with the 69-yard gain, puts the Steelers in the Patriots red zone.

Born and raised Ottawa, Ontario Canada, Kelly is a Steelers contributor to The Point of Pittsburgh. Formerly a contributor for SBNation's 'Behind the Steel Curtain'. Kelly can be reached via the Twitter handle @kanozie80

15 Comments on Pittsburgh Steelers vs New England Patriots Postgame Analysis

  1. Daquido Bazzini // December 18, 2017 at 10:59 AM //

    I’m not happy at all about the Jesse James (Completion…as Head of Officiating Al Riveron called it on his analysis) play being reversed.
    I’m even MORE unhappy about the Pats being called on two penalties for four yards.
    Just ridiculous!

    However….The Steelers need five (5) more wins.
    If they can get (and stay) healthy, they can run the table.
    I don’t care who is next on the schedule.
    Five more wins.

  2. This was just an awful loss. I don’t understand why the offense went so conservative. Ben was very accurate so I feel when the Steelers had the ball with 3 minutes to go he should have thrown the ball. The Pats can play run “d” when they know the other team is throwing.

    Ben can’t force a throw at the end. That was a terrible play call. He needs to call a fade. A fade is far less likely to get picked.

    • Kelechi Anozie // December 18, 2017 at 11:15 AM //

      From what Roethlisberger explained, that last play was a result of miscommunication between him and Todd Haley. Apparently from what I read, Ben wanted to check the ball down; Haley wanted him to go through with the fake. The reason why there was hesitation prior to the throw is because he heard yelling from the sidelines not to spike it. It’s unfortunate that this occurred but this loss could end up being what they need to get back on track, especially on defense as Gronkowski has his way with them.

  3. In hindsight he should have thrown the ball away…in hindsight they should probably have not used their time out after JuJu’s play. In hindsight when they were reviewing the James catch they should have been discussing play calls for 2nd and 3rd down in case the call was overturned….that’s on the coaching staff. In hindsight, the Pats were very lucky to win the game and even they know that. When Brown departed that completely changed the Pats coverages and just made it harder for the receivers to get open.

    Ben did thrown the ball in the possession before the last one you are referring to. He scrambled for 5 yards on 2nd down and threw to JuJu on 3rd down which came up short.

    I think you meant to say they can play run D when they know the other team is not throwing but the fact is they tried to throw on 2nd and 3rd down. Try and get your facts straight.

    • Jim the Steelers went ultra conservative once they went up 8. They didn’t do what got them the lead.

      There was no hindsight in my commentary. I said during the review that the play was going to get overturned. I said to my gathering that they need to keep the ball out of the middle of the field. I said if he throws a pass it has to be a situation that either it is a TD or an incomplete pass and the best way to do that is a fade.

      You are right about the coaching staff, they should have had plays ready to go. The passes on 2nd and 3rd down were moronic. The 2nd down pass served zero purpose. The INT was on Ben. He should know better than to try and force that. For you to babble about hindsight and to take blame off of Ben only serves to make you look stupid.

      It’s funny how last year when I said that Brady has more trouble against man to man Smizidiot scoffed. Yesterday that’s all everyone talked about. I guess Smizidiot isn’t as smart as he thinks.

      • Read your own post Lup…you said with 3 minutes left they should have thrown the ball….they tried on 2nd down and he scrambled for 5 yards and they threw it on 3rd down but came up short….so who looks stupid.

        Of course the pass to Bey if it works and he runs it in then would it have had purpose? Again, hindsight…you wouldn’t say crap if that happened…you would say what a great improv by Ben to make that play under pressure.

        They sell clues at the drug store down on the corner Lup.

        • I know I said that Jim. I still feel that they were conservative.jim I ?m sorry but there isn ?t a person on the planet that knows less than you about football or what you ?re talking about than you.

          The pass on second down served no purpose. It had no chance to score. That isn ?t hindsight that ?s actual sight. That ?s something you clearly lack. For some bizarre reason you are trying to absolve Ben of any culpability. Get a grip and learn something about football. As little as you know you know more than Smizidiot.

          • Chris my friend the only thing I know about you is you know nothing about me….I’ve watched and played more football, baseball and basketball than you’ve ever dreamed of. Your comments on football and the abilities of Ben are so clueless I’m at a loss of words to even describe what you think you know. Once again you make a fool of yourself and your knowledge ego is off the charts. I’m sorry you were wrong with what you posted and sorry to have to correct you again but by now you should be used to it, but I’m sure you’ll get over it.

            Just go back to reading more about Pirate minor leaguers and tell us how good they are and try and find someone who cares.

          • Jim I’m sorry buddy but you know absolutely nothing about me. I absolutely misspoke about the next to last drive.

            You saying stuff is hindsight is just false. I said it before it happened. I’m sorry my friend, and I do actually think I would like you, I know what I’m talking about.

            I’m not blaming Ben for the loss, but his last two passes were poor. The coaches have as much to do with that as he does. He played a tremendous game up until that point.

            I would love for you to actually tell me what I’m wrong about in regards to ben and the end of the game. Try to do it without your arrogance and insults. In reality you have said hindsight, but nothing I said was hindsight.

  4. Kelechi Anozie // December 18, 2017 at 12:12 PM //

    I wanted to make this commentary concerning Rob Gronkowski. Everything aside, that man is one of the best tight ends I have ever seen. Each catch he made over the middle was more impressive than the next, and he made Sean Davis’ life miserable. I generally don’t say things like this, but if he becomes a free agent, the Steelers need to try and get him. At the very least, they need to draft a tight end with his skillset ( no offense to Jesse James and the other tight ends on the team).

    • Btw, on that completion to JuJu that came up short on that critical 3rd down, if you watch the tape, Eli Rodgers was wide open on his post pattern 10 yards down field. Nobody within 10-15 yards of him.

  5. Kevin Schafer // December 18, 2017 at 3:18 PM //

    (From the Boston Globe…this is a good example why most people dislikes the Patriots)

    When will the Patriots ? opponents learn?

    PITTSBURGH ? When, oh when, will they ever learn?
    When it comes to Patriots-Steelers, the Patriots will always win. It doesn ?t matter if the game appears to have gone the other way. It doesn ?t matter if the Steelers are playing at home and seem to have scored a winning touchdown with only 34 seconds remaining.

    In the end, the Patriots will come into Steeltown and they will cut the Steelers ? hearts right out of their puffed-up chests. And they will send Pittsburgh ?s proud fans into pigskin therapy.

    It helps, of course, when you have Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski ? a Ruth-Gehrig-like combo on this Sunday afternoon/evening. It helps when you have Bill Belichick looking across the field, never panicking, simply waiting for the other guys to step on their shoelaces or some other appendage. It helps when you have Mike Tomlin, ever looking like a deer in the headlights, and Ben Roethlisberger ending the bizarro game with an heinous act of stupidity.
    I mean, why not throw a forced slant pass on the goal line in the final seconds against New England? Pete Carroll can tell you that ?s a time-tested formula for success.
    ?This was 500 times worse than the play Seattle made in the Super Bowl, quipped former NFL quarterback Scott Zolak.

    The Patriots emasculated the Steelers and their rain-soaked fans Sunday, shocking the AFC ?s top-seeded team, 27-24, and altering the upcoming playoffs in a fashion ever-favorable to the Kraft Athletic Club.

    It was, even by the lofty standards of Patriot thrillers through the years, one of the very best and most memorable football games of this entire Brady-Belichick dynasty. It was perhaps the best of all regular-season games. The Patriots trailed for much of the day as the Steelers controlled the ball and the clock. It looked like it was over after a Dion Lewis TD and a Brady-to-Gronk 2-point conversion pass gave the Patriots a 27-24 lead with only 56 seconds left . . . but we were just getting started.
    New England ?s defense collapsed after the go-ahead touchdown, allowing a 69-yard pass-and-run play that moved the Steelers to the Patriots ? 10. At that point, it was safe to say that a tie was the worst the Steelers could do.

    But no. These are the Patriots. They get the benefit of the Tuck Rule. They get Carroll refusing to give the ball to Marshawn Lynch. They get the Falcons losing their minds after taking a 28-3 lead. And Sunday they got a surefire touchdown called back because of the NFL ?s tricky catch rule. Pittsburgh ?s Jesse James appeared to score a winning TD with 34 seconds left, but it was reviewed and denied. James momentarily lost possession (sort of) after his hands came down with the ball on the TD side of the goal line.

    So the touchdown was erased. The Steelers would settle for a chip-shot field goal. Or so we thought . . .

    And then Roethlisberger, who should know better, rushed, went into confusion mode, got bad advice in his headset, threw the ball into coverage, and had the pass tipped by Eric Rowe, then caught Duron Harmon, making the Patriots winners.

    Follow the bouncing football. Roethlisberger to Rowe to Harmon. Tinker to Evers to No Chance for Pittsburgh.
    ?You saw it all tonight, said Patriots safety Devin McCourty.

    ?The emotions were up and down, said All-World Gronkowski (nine catches for 168 yards). ?A roller coaster. Down. Up. Down. Then boom. The ride ended very well.

    When it was over, stunned Steelers fans felt the game was stolen from them. Any group of fans would have felt the same way. It ?s a stupid rule. James ?s TD should have been a TD just like Brady ?s fumble should have been a fumble when he was stripped by Oakland ?s Charles Woodson back in January of 2002.

    The sum total of all this is that the Patriots went from being the No. 3 seed to being the No. 1 seed in the AFC. In a Pittsburgh Minute.

    New England clinched its ninth straight AFC East title (which has the same degree of difficulty as signing up for Facebook), assured itself a first-round bye (unless something unexpected happens against the Jets and Bills the next two weekends), and set up a potential AFC Championship rematch IN FOXBOROUGH with these same poor Steelers on Jan. 21. Oh, and Brady (11-2 lifetime vs. Pittsburgh) probably copped the league MVP award, especially now that Steelers wideout Antonio Brown (calf) will miss the rest of the regular season.

    Given the Patriots ? good luck, Brown will probably miss the playoffs, too. That ?s just the way it goes for the Patriots.

    Shell-shocked Tomlin took only three questions before stalking off from his postgame news conference.

    ?It ?s really irrelevant how I feel about it, he said, when asked about having the winning TD taken off the board. ?I ?m not going to cry over spilled milk and all of that crap and talk about replay. I ain ?t doing it.

    When Belichick was asked about ?being lucky, the coach quipped, ?Just competing for 60 minutes.

    That said, it ?s no accident that the Patriots were prepared for Roethlisberger ?s insane play.

    ?The fake spike is something we see all the time in practice, said McCourty.

    Of course they do. When you are the Patriots, you always prepare for the inevitable moment when the opponent loses his mind.

    And then you pounce. And you win. And the beaten foes shake their fists and cry into the night after you have cut their hearts out once again.

  6. Daquido Bazzini // December 18, 2017 at 4:28 PM //

    More of the “neutral” journalism that many columnists preach courtesy of Dan Shaughnessy.

  7. Kelechi Anozie // December 19, 2017 at 10:50 AM //

    Hey guys, I wanted to write this post to remind people that this is a friendly forum. I love the fact that people are passionate about their team, but there also needs to be respect for each other when disagreeing with another person’s point of view. So I’m ask everyone to remember that no matter how you feel about the next person, we’re all rooting for the same team in the end.

    • That ?s just Jim being Jim. Don ?t worry I don ?t get offended. Certain people think they know everything and get upset when people offer up an intelligent opposing view

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