By Danny Cox
After last week’s Monday night loss to the Miami Dolphins, the New England Patriots knew that they would not have time to prepare for a game against a weaker team and look to rebound with an easy victory. No, they had to head back out on the road to take on the AFC-leading Pittsburgh Steelers, but they made sure to bring only their best.
With that and a huge rally, the Pats defeated the Steelers 27-24 in overly dramatic fashion to move back into a tie for the best record in the AFC.
This game was not a thing of beauty by the offense of the New England Patriots, but they knew what they had to do to win against a very strong Steelers defense. Tom Brady finished with 298 yards on 22-of-35 passing with one touchdown and one interception, but it was obvious who his favorite target was on Sunday.
After having to sit out one game due to a suspension, Rob Gronkowski had a huge game with nine receptions for 168 yards. Brandin Cooks partnered up with him for 60 yards and a touchdown of his own on four receptions.
Dion Lewis helped keep things a bit balanced with 67 yards and one touchdown on just 13 rushing attempts.
The defense of the New England Patriots was certainly tested on this afternoon and, despite not looking good for a full 60 minutes, they truly stepped it up when it mattered most. Le’Veon Bell ran all over the field for 117 yards and one touchdown while Ben Roethlisberger passed for 281 yards and two touchdowns, but the Patriots never let the Steelers get too far away from them.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Steelers had an eight-point lead and it held in place until more than halfway through the final 15 minutes. The offense of the Patriots had a lot of work to do, but with a three-point lead on the final drive, New England’s defense kicked it into gear.
Big Ben hit Darrius Heyward-Bey for a short gain, but he was kept in bounds to keep the clock running. Roethlisberger didn’t want to stop the momentum so he tried to get it all with a pass, which was knocked into the air and intercepted by Patriots safety Duron Harmon to seal the victory.
Special Teams: B
Stephen Gostkowski hit both of his two field goal attempts even though he was only one-of-two on his extra points. Ryan Allen didn’t get much work in as he punted only twice on the day.
Dion Lewis did help with the return game more than usual as he had four kick returns for 74 yards and a long of 27.
Bill Belichick knew that this game would have to be a lot of Tom Brady doing what he does best and his defense playing better than they had all season. While the defense didn’t play their greatest, they did make enough plays when it mattered and—combined with Brady’s masterfulness—the Pats were able to return to the top.
Up Next: With only two games remaining in the season, the New England Patriots prepare for a divisional battle against the Buffalo Bills next week. Just a few weeks ago, the Pats routed the Bills 23-3, but Buffalo is coming off of two wins in a row and are hoping to keep their playoff hopes alive. Every single win will be needed.