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Week 15 Patriots vs Steelers: Best and worst plays from New England’s 17-10 loss in Pittsburgh

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Let’s take a look at some of the game’s biggest plays.

New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The New England Patriots’ 17-10 defeat against the Pittsburgh Steelers saw plenty of big plays by both teams — with the home team ultimately making more of them to prevail in the end. But which plays were the biggest from the Patriots’ perspective? Let’s take a look at the changes in win probability to find out (percentages via NumberFire).

5 best Patriots plays

Q4: 3-8-PIT 13 (9:28) T.Brady pass short middle to R.Gronkowski to PIT 5 for 8 yards.

Win probability: +13.94%

Down 14-10 midway through the fourth quarter, the Patriots were in a position to take their first lead of the day — thanks in part to a big 3rd and 8 conversion pass from Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski. While the tight end had a generally quiet day against Pittsburgh, he made the team’s biggest play of the day when it comes to swaying win probability in New England’s favor.

Q1: 1-10-NE 37 (6:58) T.Brady pass deep right to C.Hogan for 63 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Win probability: +11.69%

New England’s third offensive play of the game was the team’s biggest in terms of yardage gained, and second-biggest when it comes to win probability impact. The 63-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Chris Hogan — a play on which Hogan was wide open on a busted coverage — tied the game at seven early in the contest and swung win probability by almost 12%.

Q4: 1-15-NE 35 (2:00) T.Brady pass deep middle to J.Edelman to PIT 31 for 34 yards.

Win probability: +10.60%

Coming out of the two-minute warning, with no timeouts left a touchdown needed to tie the game, Tom Brady and Julian Edelman connected on a massive 34-yard gain — all after New England was moved back five yards on a false start penalty called against left guard Joe Thuney. Edelman, who led the Patriots with seven catches for 90 yards on Sunday, was able to get open in the middle of the Steelers’ zone coverage on the play.

Q3: 3-16-NE 29 (5:29) T.Brady pass incomplete deep middle to C.Hogan. PENALTY on PIT-J.Haden, Defensive Pass Interference, 21 yards.

Win probability: +10.45%

Chris Hogan, who had his most active game since the bye week when it comes to playing time as New England’s number three wideout, was also the target of a third down pass in the late third period. While he was unable to secure the catch, Steelers cornerback Joe Haden was called for interference resulting in a 21-yard gain and third down conversion. Given new life, the Patriots went on to turn the possession into a field goal.

Q4: 1-10-PIT 40 (12:07) T.Brady pass deep right to J.Edelman to PIT 15 for 25 yards.

Win probability: +10.00%

Three plays after Duron Harmon’s second interception of the day, the Patriots produced one of their biggest gains of the day: Brady connected with wide receiver Julian Edelman to move the team into Pittsburgh’s red zone — and its win probability up by 10%. Unfortunately for New England, the team was unable to turn the solid field position gained on the big pass into any points due to an untimely interception. Speaking of which...

5 worst Patriots plays

Q4: 2-16-PIT 16 (7:51) T.Brady pass short right intended for J.Edelman INTERCEPTED by J.Haden at PIT 4.

Win probability: -20.37%

New England was in a good chance to cut into Pittsburgh’s four-point lead or even go up themselves when a Tom Brady throwaway-attempt was intercepted by Steelers cornerback Joe Haden. While the Patriots were 43.74% favorites to come away victoriously before the pick, their win probability dropped to just 22.77% due to the turnover — the team’s only one of the day, but a costly mistake on the quarterback’s part.

Q4: 3-9-PIT 26 (3:14) B.Roethlisberger pass short right to J.Samuels to PIT 46 for 20 yards.

Win probability: -14.10%

Pittsburgh moved the football well off Brady’s interception but was faced with a 3rd and 9 with 3:14 left in the game. A stop would have given the Patriots solid field position in a four-point game. However, New England failed to come up with one, and instead had to watch the Steelers gain 20 yards on a pass to running back Jaylen Samuels. Brian Flores’ defense had plenty of bad plays on the day but none was bigger — at least when it comes to win probability — than the third down conversion.

Q4: 2-5-PIT 11 (:37) T.Brady pass incomplete short right to R.Gronkowski. PENALTY on NE-S.Mason, Offensive Holding, 10 yards.

Win probability: -12.13%

On their final possession and with a touchdown needed, the Patriots moved the football well and with 37 seconds left to go found themselves inside the Pittsburgh 15. However, the team moved backwards on second down due to a common theme: penalties. A holding call against right guard Shaq Mason cost the Patriots 10 yards of field position and instead of a 3rd and 5 set up 2nd and 15.

Q4: 1-5-PIT 5 (8:54) S.Michel up the middle to PIT 2 for 3 yards. PENALTY on NE-M.Cannon, Offensive Holding, 10 yards.

Win probability: -9.39%

A penalty also cost the Patriots on the series that ended with Brady’s interception. While New England moved all the way to the Pittsburgh 5-yard line thanks to the aforementioned 3rd and 8 conversion by Rob Gronkowski, the team moved back 10 yards again on a holding call against right tackle Marcus Cannon.

Q4: 1-15-PIT 15 (8:34) T.Brady pass short middle to J.White to PIT 16 for -1 yards.

Win probability: -7.68%

One play after the holding call, New England marched backward even further: Tom Brady threw a short pass to James White but the usually elusive running back was unable to get up the field and tackled for a 1-yard loss. On 2nd and 16 one play later, Brady threw his costly interception.