Bouncing back after allowing 404 yards and a season-high 34 points in a Week 9 loss to the Cleveland Browns, the New England Patriots defense stepped up to put the Pittsburgh Steelers in a big hole early en route to a 39-26 victory.
After being limited to just 12 net yards of offense in the first quarter and 35 yards midway through the second quarter, Pittsburgh picked it up in the second half to finish with a total of 425 yards on offense. But it was too little too late, as the Patriots were well in control of the game by that point.
New York Jets in the race for the best record in the AFC.
The Patriots got on the board on their first possesion, capping a 70-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown catch by Rob Gronkowski. Shayne Graham's 31-yard field goal around eight and a half minutes later gave New England a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger had a tough night, getting sacked five times and knocked down many more times. He finished the game with 387 yards, three touchdowns and one interception on 30 of 49 passing.
The Steelers was held out of the end zone until the fourth quarter, when Roethlisberger found Emmanuel Sanders for a six-yard touchdown catch to close their deficit to 13 points. Pittsburgh scored twice more in the quarter -- on Mike Wallace's 15-yard catch at 6:44 and 33-yard catch at 2:59 -- but couldn't pull of the come-from-behind victory.
The Patriots racked up 453 net yards of offense, including a 350-passing yards performance by QB Tom Brady. Brady threw for three touchdowns and ran for another in the win.
After taking a 23-3 lead at the end of three quarters courtesy of Gronkowski's second score and Brady's touchdown run, New England kept command of the game by answering Pittsburgh's fourth-quarter rally with two more touchdowns of their own. James Sanders gave the Patriots a 29-10 lead with a 32-yard interception return for a score, and Gronkowski put New England up 36-18 with his third touchdown of the game.
Gronkowski had five receptions for 72 yards in Pittsburgh, and three of his catches were for touchdowns.
The Patriots' final points came with 1:53 remaining in the game on Graham's 36-yard field goal.
Pittsburgh's Hines Ward left the game with a neck injury after a hit by Patrick Chung and James Sanders jarred the ball loose on a reception that was ruled a drop after a challenge and review late in the first quarter. Ward did not return, snapping his streak of 186 consecutive games with a reception. It was the third-longest streak of that kind in NFL history.
It was the Patriots' fifth game in Pittsburgh since Heinz Field opened in 2001. Two were AFC championship games - New England won both - and the other two featured one team snapping the other's regular-season winning streak of 16 games or more.
The teams have met during six seasons since 2001, and five times either the Patriots or the Steelers went on to the Super Bowl.
Article Courtesy of MSNBC.com
The Pittsburgh Steelers Fall Short Against Tom Brady and the Patriots
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