Steelers 25 – Patriots 17
The Pittsburgh Steelers get their signature win of the season and an argument can be made that the AFC still goes through the defending AFC champions.
Here are some Observations out of today’s game:
Aggressive Game Plan: The Steelers aggressive play on both sides of the game paid dividends in the team’s 25-17 win.
Ben Roethlisberger threw 50 times, going 36 of 50 for 365 yards and 2 touchdowns, 1 interception. The Steelers were going to win through the air and Bruce Arians had an excellent game plan keeping New England on their heels all afternoon.
From the start of the Steelers opening drive, Roethlisberger controlled the game, doing what he wanted, leading the Steelers on an 11 play – 68 yard scoring drive, highlighted by Roethlisberger going 7 of 9 for 66 yards and a touchdown.
Pittsburgh dominated play in the first half, outgaining New England 261 – 83 and had 18 first downs to New England’s 8.
Roethlisberger in the first half was 22/32 for 231 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception, setting a career high in passing attempts (1st half).
Pittsburgh had the ball for 21:13 in the first half and overall, 39:23 in the game.
Although the Steelers were unable to put the game away offensively in the second half, they set the tone with their dominating play in the first half and keeping Tom Brady off the field.
Roethlisberger was very good at taking what the Patriots defense gave him and the Steelers put up 429 yards on offense and were excellent on third down, going 10/16.
“We never played on our terms, ” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said.
Swarming Defense/Confidence in corners: Dick LeBeau coached scared in 2010 against Tom Brady and LeBeau came back today with an aggressive game plan, most notably on third down.
LeBeau went with tight man to man coverage on third and passing downs and it was a great look against Brady.
An intriguing development is that the coaching staff is trusting the Steelers corners much more than they have in years past. LeBeau has a lot of confidence in them right now.
William Gay is playing the best football of his career and Keenan Lewis is really emerging.
Ike Taylor did an excellent job against Wes Welker, limiting Welker to 6 receptions for 39 yards and no big plays.
Troy Polamalu was quiet from a big play standpoint but he caused problems with his movement at the line of scrimmage.
Meanwhile, LaMarr Woodley was a force again, prior to getting injured, with 2 sacks in the game, giving him 9 on the season. Woodley expects to be okay for next weeks showdown against Baltimore but we’ll see how things play out.
There’s a lot of reasons to be optimistic about this defense and they have yet to peak with James Harrison sidelined and Lawerence Timmons playing out of position.
It’s time to put those Old-Slow-and-Over comments away.
Better O-line Play, leading to Miller being more involved:
One development the past couple weeks is the Steelers getting Heath Miller more involved in the passing game. A big reason for that is because of much better play from the offensive line as a whole since the signing of Max Starks and 2nd round pick Marcus Gilbert improving each week.
Early this season, the Steelers had no choice but to keep Miller in to block but the improved play, most notably at the tackle position is letting the Steelers unleash Miller at certain points.
Miller had 6 receptions for 76 yards in the first half, getting targeted eight times (1st half) and finished the game with a team-high 85 receiving yards on 7 receptions.
Steelers don’t miss a beat without Ward: Hines Ward still has a role in this offense but the Steelers might be at their best when Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown are working as the top-3. The Steelers can push the tempo with those three and their ability to stretch the field is opening so much underdeath the past two weeks.
Brown had a career high 9 receptions for 68 yards, Sanders added 5 catches for 70 yards and Wallace had 7 catches for 70 yards.
Post-Game Quote: “They outplayed us and outcoached us, ” — Bill Belichick