Just like this year, the last New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers matchup had plenty of playoff implications.
The two teams will have last met almost a year ago to the day, on Dec. 17, 2017. The Patriots pulled off a comeback 27-24 victory to secure a record ninth AFC East title and have another shot at home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
Rob Gronkowski had a huge game, with nine receptions for 168 yards, including three catches on the game winning drive. The Steelers had a shot to come back and win it, but Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted in the end zone with 5 seconds remaining.
The Steelers appeared to take the lead when Roethlisberger hit Jesse James for a 10-yard score with 28 seconds to go, but many fans will remember the controversial overturned call.
Official Tony Corrente claimed that because the ball shifted as James twisted his way across the goal line, it did not “survive the ground” and was not a catch.
Big Ben connected with Darrius Heyward-Bey on the next snap, but he was tackled in bounds. The clock was winding down and rather than spike it, the Steelers went for the win. And that is where his pass to Eli Rogers was knocked around and brought down by Patriots’ safety Duron Harmon for the New England victory.
Tom Brady was 22-of-35 for 298 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while Ben Roethlisberger was 22-of-30 for 281 yards, two scores and one pick.
Deion Lewis led the way for New England’s rushing efforts with 13 carries, 67 yards and one score. Rex Burkhead added four rushes for 12 yards and one touchdown.
LeVeon Bell had a huge performance with 24 carries for 117 yards and one rushing touchdown. He also added five receptions for 48 yards.
New England’s receiving was led by Rob Gronkowski, who had nine catches for 168 yards. Brandin Cooks added four receptions for 60 yards and one score.
JuJu Smith-Schuster was Pittsburgh’s leading receiver, posting six catches for 114 yards. Martavis Bryant added four catches for 59 yards and one touchdown, while Eli Rogers had one catch for 18 yards and a score.
The Patriots’ defense was led by Stephon Gilmore who had eight total tackles (all solo). Lawrence Guy recorded one sack and Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise Jr. were each attributed with half a sack.
The Steelers’ defense was led by Sean Davis who had ten total tackles, including seven solo. Bud Dupree and Cameron Heyward each added a sack apiece.
The New England Patriots will travel to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018. Game time is set for 4:25pm from Heinz Field.