It’s very rare that a game lives up to its hype, but Sunday’s Pittsburgh Steelers Vs. New England Patriots matchup certainly did. It was a matchup between the two best teams in the American Football Conference (AFC) as they were fighting for Homefield Advantage in the playoffs and unlike previous times, both teams fought to the end. Unfortunately, in the Steelers case, the result was the same as those previous times: A loss.
Despite their efforts, the Steelers once again fell to the Patriots, this time in a 27-24 loss that was a bitter pill for the Steelers to follow because they knew they had every opportunity to win this game. They put pressure on Patriots QB Tom Brady, they scored TDs in the red zone, the even intercepted Brady, but unfortunately, they still fell short when it mattered: On the Scoreboard.
Sure, you can point to the final seconds of the game, when Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger found TE Jesse James for what appeared to be a 10-yard TD that would’ve won them the game. Apparently, after it was reviewed, the refs overturned it and said that James didn’t ‘Survive the ground’, meaning he didn’t have full possession of the ball when he broke the plane. In my opinion, it should’ve been down at the 1, because his knee was down. Big Ben’s attempt to fake spike it hurt even more because it landed into the hands of Patriots S Duron Harmon for a game-ending interception. But let’s be honest: Offensive play-calling and the defense cost the Steelers this game.
They led the Pats 24-16 in the 4th quarter before Brady mounted his comeback. After K Steve Gostowski made his FG to cut the lead to 24-19, the Steelers got the ball back with over 3 minutes left, played conservative and ended up punting the ball back to the Pats with over 2 minutes left. “No problem,” Said Brady as he found TE Rob Gronkowski 3 straight times (with Steelers S Sean Davis hanging on him) before giving the ball to RB Tim Lewis for the go-ahead TD with 52 seconds left. The mistake was putting the ball in Brady’s hands…against that Steelers defense. Not good Todd Haley.
I respect the Steelers for their fight, but they blew it. As a result. they fall to 11-3 and out of contention for Homefield advantage in the playoffs. They can still clinch a first-round bye with a win over the Houston Texans (Christmas Day) and the Browns.
They will also do it without WR Antonio Brown who partially tore his calf in the first quarter. WR JuJu Smith-Shuster had 6 catches for 114 yards and an awesome 69-Yrd run that almost led to the game-winner.
As a Steelers fan, it hurts but I bet it hurts the team even more. But they must shake off this loss and get ready for the Texans next week.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin
It was a tough, hard-fought game. We came up short. I appreciate the efforts of the guys. Obviously, New England is a good group. You know, we’ve got to be better in an effort to finish it. But a lot of good effort [and] things there.
On the injury front, A.B. [Antonio Brown] is getting his lower leg injury evaluated. I don’t have a lot of information there. James Conner has an MCL knee injury. Other than that, bumps and bruises associated with playing. But I thought the guys played hard. I thought they made plays, obviously, in all three phases, just not quite enough to finish it. Such is life sometimes in the NFL. It’s been awhile since we’ve been unsuccessful when we’ve stepped into a stadium. It’s important that we absorb what happened, we make necessary responses as we move forward and get back into our winning ways. And that’s going to be our challenge in response to what transpired. But we’ll start on that as we get into next week. Today, we played. We played to win. We came up short. We accept responsibility for that.
How did the game plan change without Brown in there?
You know, it changes. A.B. is significant, but I thought that the guys did a nice job of adjusting and making plays largely. [When] you lose somebody like A.B., there is an adjustment.
How did you view the touchdown that was called back?
You know, I don’t have HD and all of that stuff. So, it’s really irrelevant how I feel about it to be honest with you. It’s not going to change the outcome of the game. I’m not going to cry over spilled milk and all of that crap and talk about replay. I ain’t doing it.
Do you have a problem with Ben [Roethlisberger] going for it in that situation?
No. No, man. We play and play to win. That’s what we do.
In other NFL Scores: With the win, the Patriots clinched the AFC East Division. The Jacksonville Jaguars clinched a playoff berth after beating Houston 45-7. Philadelphia clinched a first-round bye after beating the NY Giants 34-29. Minnesota clinched the NFC North after beating Cincinnati 34-7. The LA Rams beat Seattle 42-7, New Orleans beat the NY Jets 31-19, Buffalo beat Miami 24-16, Baltimore beat Cleveland 27-10, with the Browns falling to an NFL worst 0-14, Washington beat Arizona 20-15, SF beat Tennessee 25-23.
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