The New England Patriots defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-16 to move to 6-1 and will remain atop the AFC. Despite a slow first half that left the Patriots ahead 14-10, New England rallied and made the necessary adjustments to pull away in the second half.
The Patriots received the opening kick of the second half and picked up right where they left off in the first half- with ugly football all around. The Steelers generated pressure and forced two holding penalties by LT Nate Solder and the Patriots went three-and-out.
The Steelers responded with a lengthy drive that ended in a field goal attempt to bring the score to 14-13.
The Patriots finally buckled down on offense and got their tight ends involved. Blount opened up the drive with 36 yards on three carries, before QB Tom Brady found TE Rob Gronkowski on a beautiful 36-yard touchdown strike. This was Gronkowski’s 68th career touchdown to tie for the Patriots franchise record for most touchdowns in a career.
Unfortunately, K Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point and the Patriots only held a 20-13 lead.
The Steelers led another long drive with multiple third down conversions over CB Logan Ryan, but the Patriots defense showed their strength as they forced the Steelers to take a 44-yard field goal attempt. Pittsburgh nailed it to draw within 4.
The rest of the game was all Patriots. Blount continued to rumble, Gronkowski added a huge 37-yard catch, and WR Julian Edelman continued to pick up small yardage on low crossers in front of the Steelers linebackers. Blount scored on a 5-yard touchdown run as the Patriots took a 27-16 lead.
Blount has 8 touchdowns on the year, which is his new career high. There are still 9 games left this year.
The Patriots were going to ice the game as the defense forced their first three-and-out since the first quarter, but Edelman fumbled on the ensuing kick return and the Steelers got the ball with 10:37 left in the game on the Patriots 43-yard line. There was a lot of football left to play.
The defense forced another three-and-out and the Steelers missed the 54-yard field goal attempt. From that point, the Patriots focused on draining the clock and the two teams exchanged punts until the game was over.
Brady finished with a relatively quiet 19/26 for 222 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. TE Rob Gronkowski had his weekly dose of 4 receptions, 93 yards, and 1 touchdown. WR Julian Edelman even showed up with 9 catches for 60 yards.
But the offensive player of the game was RB LeGarrette Blount who picked up 134 yards from scrimmage and 2 touchdowns against his old team as the Steelers couldn’t find an answer.
The Patriots defense put on a bend-don’t-break clinic as a crazy five drives ended in a field goal attempt, one led to a touchdown, and another yielded a red zone interception. The defense was pretty unimaginative over the course of the game.
The (6-1) Patriots will travel to Buffalo to face the (4-3) Bills. Buffalo is coming off a disheartening loss to the Dolphins. Then the Patriots will get some much needed rest during the bye week.