Steelers Fall to New England in Heartbreaking Loss

The matchup everyone had waited for was finally upon us. The two juggernauts of the AFC going head to head in an always memorable matchup. This time Pittsburgh finally had all of the Killer B’s on the field against New England, and things looked promising for the Steelers in this matchup leading up to this game.

Tom Brady and the Patriots marched down field on their first drive of the game as Brady found wide receiver Brandin Cooks for a big gain of 43 yards to give New England a great position in the red-zone. Running back Rex Burkhead looked to continue his production as of late, as he hammered the ball in the end-zone for a 1-yard score to put New England up early, 7 to 0.

Ben Roethlisberger and the offense looked to answer back, as he connected with Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and Juju Smith-Schuster to work their way downfield. The offense looked comfortable on this drive and Roethlisberger finished it off with a great pass to Eli Rogers for an 18-yard touchdown to even the score at 7.

As New England’s offense took the field again as they looked to add to their score total, but some stellar defense by Pittsburgh would shut them down on this drive. Mike Hilton continued his very impressive play as he found himself making great tackles early on. Most notably it was Cameron Heyward that would sack Brady, giving him 10 total sacks on the season and ultimately force New England to put the ball back into Big Ben’s hands.

As the second quarter began, it was Martavis Bryant who would shine early in the quarter as he made an outstanding grab for 39-yards to put Pittsburgh in great field position. The play was overshadowed shortly after as Antonio Brown suffered a lower leg injury on the drive (later determined a partially torn calf muscle), as he collided with a New England defender in the end-zone on a possible touchdown grab. The Steelers turned to Chris Boswell to give them the lead, and Boswell continued his hot streak, hitting from 51 yards to give Pittsburgh a 10 to 7 lead.

Here’s Martavis’ catch!

On New England’s next drive, Brady chipped away at Pittsburgh’s defense as he found wide receiver Danny Amendola on several plays. Mike Hilton continued to impress, breaking up a would-be touchdown pass deep in the end zone, which forced New England to settle for a 32-yard field goal. We are now tied once again at 10.

On Pittsburgh’s next offensive drive, they were able to maintain the ball for a majority of this quarter to keep the ball away from Brady. The Steelers had great success converting on 3rd down to this point in the game. Le’Veon Bell and James Conner ran the ball with ease, and Ben found Juju Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant on several plays to continuously make their way downfield. The drive would end with an impressive one-handed touchdown grab by Martavis Bryant, channeling teammate Antonio Brown to put Pittsburgh up 17 to 10.

New England started out on offense to begin the second half, and they looked to have come out of the locker room with a vengeance. Brady looked for tight end Rob Gronkowski often on this drive to get the ball moving early on. Mike Hilton continued to make his presence known in the game, while Vinny Williams and Artie Burns made some great plays themselves. New England would convert on 4th and short, and follow it up with a Brandin Cooks touchdown. Fortunately for Pittsburgh, New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski would miss the extra point to make the score 17 to 16.

Pittsburgh looked to come back after Cooks’ touchdown, and the defense bounced back in a huge way. Stephon Tuitt provided some big time pressure on Brady, forcing him to make an errant throw, and Vinny Williams was there to come up with the ball. This was Williams’ first career interception, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. As Pittsburgh took over on offense, Le’Veon Bell began to really get things going in the second half, running the ball all over New England’s defense. A well-executed play by Roethlisberger fooled everyone, as he faked the run and found Xavier Grimble wide open in the red-zone. This play would contribute to a Le’Veon Bell touchdown run provided by some great blocking from David Decastro, and give Pittsburgh a 24 to 16 lead over New England.

The Steelers would continue their solid defensive play since New England’s early third quarter score, as they constantly found ways to get pressure on Brady and take him out of his element. Once again it was Stephon Tuitt to get to Brady, and force the Patriots to punt.

As the fourth quarter began, Bell was picking up right where he left off, slashing through New England’s defense with his excellent patience and speed. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh was involved in an uphill battle as Alejandro Villanueva found himself on the wrong end of two costly penalties, forcing the Steelers to give the ball back to Brady and company.

New England looked to get the ground game going as well, they displayed running back Dion Lewis‘ ability on this drive to get the ball downfield. After a defensive pass interference call on Artie Burns, the defense came back strong. Hilton continued to build upon his impressive outing, and the drive would end with Bud Dupree taking Brady down for a sack. Gostkowski would make the field goal attempt to make the score 19 to 24.

It didn’t take New England long to get the ball back on offense, and unfortunately for Pittsburgh they gave Brady the ball back with too much time left in the game. This drive would prove to be crucial, as Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski repeatedly. Gronk found himself in single coverage multiple times, and Brady exploited it as he hit Gronk on two connections for 26 yards each and one for a 17-yard gain. The Patriots would pound the ball in with Dion Lewis for the touchdown, and once again use Gronkowski to come up with another grab on the two-point conversion. The conversion would put New England up 27 to 24.

With a little less than a minute to go, Ben found Juju Smith-Schuster for an absolutely huge gain of 69 yards as Juju caught a ball on a slant route for what looked to be a short yardage play. On the very next play, Ben found Jesse James for a wide open touchdown…or so we thought. James looked to have caught the ball and retain possession, but as he reached across the goal-line he lost possession according to the officials. This play knocked the wind right out of Pittsburgh’s sails, everyone thought it was a touchdown, and Pittsburgh needed this one in a big way. With the clock winding down, Roethlisberger turned to Eli Rogers once again, but the ball was tipped right into the hands of a New England on a game-ending interception.

Here is the controversial Jesse James would-be touchdown

This matchup did not lack action or controversy as usual, and while Pittsburgh played a tremendous game against New England they could not close the game out and capitalize on a last minute offensive push. As of right now, it appears New England will have home field advantage going into playoffs, but the season is not yet over and Steeler Nation can only stay hopeful that the tides will turn.

Tonight’s game was lead by Ben Roethlisberger with 281 yards on 22 of 30 attempts, with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Le’Veon Bell lead the ground game for Pittsburgh, rushing for 117 yards on 24 carries. The leading receiver for the Steelers was Juju Smith-Schuster with 6 receptions for 114 yards. On the defenive side of the ball, Sean Davis lead the team in tackles with 10, Bud Dupree and Cameron Heyward both contributed a sack each, and Vinny Williams added an interception to the Steelers defensive outing.

Pittsburgh will most likely be without MVP candidate, Antonio Brown, for the rest of the regular season, but the word is he will be ready to come back for playoffs. He is now the first player in NFL history to have 5 straight seasons with 100 or more catches. Joe Haden appears to be on the right track to return soon as well, which will greatly give the defense a boost.

Keep your heads up high, Steeler Nation, still a lot to be proud of!

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