Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers Outlast Tom Brady, Patriots in Dramatic Victory

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Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers Outlast Tom Brady, Patriots in Dramatic Victory
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 16: Jaylen Samuels #38 of the Pittsburgh Steelers carries the ball against the New England Patriots in the third quarter during the game at Heinz Field on December 16, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers remain in first place in the AFC North after beating the New England Patriots 17-10 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

Brady threw an incompletion on 4th-and-15 from the Steelers’s 21-yard line with 14 seconds remaining that sealed the result.

After the Baltimore Ravens won earlier in the day, the Steelers would’ve slipped to second if they had lost to New England. The Patriots, meanwhile, would’ve clinched an AFC East title if they had beaten Pittsburgh. Instead, their 10th straight division crown will have to wait at least another week.

Ben Roethlisberger finished with 235 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions on 22-of-34 passing for Pittsburgh. The Steelers were without James Conner for the second straight game as Jaylen Samuels went for 142 yards on the ground.

Tom Brady threw for 279 yards, one touchdown and an interception for New England. Sony Michel ran for 59 yards on 13 carries.

      

Patriots’ Reliance on Gordon, Gronk Will Sink New England in Playoffs

Rob Gronkowski and Josh Gordon combined to catch three passes for 40 yards. Those numbers are collectively one of the biggest reasons the Patriots offense failed to move the ball Sunday night.

It’s not exactly a revelation to say a team has a great chance of beating the Patriots if it takes away two of New England’s best playmakers. Previous Patriots teams seemingly had a stronger offensive balance, though.

Just last year, New England could rely on Brandin Cooks and Dion Lewis. Sony Michel shows promise, but he isn’t at the level Lewis set in 2017 when he ran for 896 yards and averaged 5.0 yards per carry. Gordon, meanwhile, has the same big-play potential as Cooks without the same week-to-week consistency.

According to Football Outsiders, the Patriots ranked first in offensive efficiency in 2017. They had fallen to sixth entering Week 15.

The end of Sunday’s game encapsulated the game for New England. After getting a fresh set of downs at Pittsburgh’s 16-yard line, Brady targeted Gronkowski three times in a row. Each of the three passes fell incomplete as the Steelers blanketed Gronk around the goal line.

Plenty of unsung heroes have shined for the Patriots in the postseason over the years. If you’re taking on New England, though, you have to feel relatively comfortable with the idea of isolating Gronkowski and Gordon and making somebody else lead the way in the Patriots passing game. 

      

What’s Next?

The Steelers hit the road for a tricky matchup against the New Orleans Saints on Dec. 23 before hosting the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17. The Patriots wrap up the regular season with home games against the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

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