So I was going into the Steelers vs. Patriots game rather skeptical. Let's face it: Tom Brady was 6-1 against the Steelers and they tend to beat Pittsburgh's defense up. I was even more worried since linebackers James Harrison and James Farrior, plus wide receiver Hines Ward, were out, our O-line is rather sad and beat up, and I opted to wear my new Louis Lipps jersey over my Hines Ward one and wasn't sure whether or not it was lucky.
All that said, it was an awesome first half for the Steelers, minus a pretty terrible interception by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and they managed to hold on until the end for the win. On the first possession, Roethlisberger completed 7-of-9 for 66 yards, converting all three third-downs, with 11-yard and 15-yard passes to tight end Heath Miller. The touchdown pass was completed to Mewelde Moore after a third-and-goal at the 5. The Patriots, after setting up at the 40 thanks to an out-of-bounds kick, went three-and-out and punted.
And the peasants rejoiced.
The Steelers held the ball for a whopping 13:36 of the first quarter. One play into the second quarter, Shaun Suisham kicked a 33-yard field goal, putting them up 10-0. Things were looking pretty good, until Ben threw that pick. Like I've always said, this is the Steelers. They like to keep things interesting.
On the Steelers 24-yard line, Roethlisberger held onto the ball all freakin' day and then was sacked by Andre Carter. Loss of 9. On third down, Roethlisberger tried to pass down the middle to Emmanuel Sanders, but instead threw it right to LB Gary Guyton. Guyton returned it to the Steelers 8-yard line. Then Tom Brady. Then 10-7.
But luckily Roethlisberger redeemed himself on the next possession. He went 6 for 7 for 68 yards. A 7-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown put the Steelers up 17-7 lead with less than three minutes to go in the first half.
The Patriots opened up the second half with a three-and-out. At around six minutes into the third quarter, I kind of felt a change of tides, especially after LaMarr Woodley got injured. My skepticism was unfounded, as Stephen Gostkowski missed a 42-yard field goal. It bounced off the goal post and I laughed manically. The Steelers came back with another lengthy drive that ended with Suisham's third field goal, which put them up 23-10. But then Suisham missed his next field goal attempt from the 43-yard line on their next possession and karma kicked me yet again.
It's also worth noting that the Steelers' first punt of the game occurred with 28 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Two botched on-side kicks by the Patriots also put the final nail in their coffin.
The game ended in a bizarre play, with Brady standing in the pocket and Brett Keisel fighting and knocking the ball loose. When two Patriots players ran to recover, safety Troy Polamalu came out of nowhere and batted the ball into the endzone, which the Steelers recovered. It was ruled a safety. The announcers said batting the ball away like that is illegal, but I for one thought it was pretty clever.
It was a battle of the quarterbacks though, and Ben won. He completed 36 of 50 passes for 365 yards and 2 touchdowns. They held the ball for 39:22 compared to the Patriots 20:38. They racked up 427 yards vs. 213. And completed 78 plays vs. the Pats' 50. I love these stats! Ben didn't seem to miss Hines Ward, though I certainly did, and threw to Antonio Brown (with a career-high nine catches), Heath Miller (he got a season-high seven catches), and of course Mike Wallace (seven catches).
Brady & Co. kept things interesting until the very end (come on, like I said, this is the Steelers). Brady went 24 for 35 for 198 yards (I know!!) and 2 touchdowns, connecting with Aaron Hernandez and Deion Branch. He was able cut the Steelers' lead to 23-17 with a 1-yard TD pass to Hernandez, and there was less than three minutes remaining. That 10-play drive was something I thought the Patriots were going to do to the Steelers all day. But they couldn't seem to get a rhythm going until the end, with the defense disrupting Brady just enough to rattle him.
The Steelers have now won their fourth straight game, finally against a super-talented team that has given me reasons to become an alcoholic. The win was made even more impressive with a patchwork offensive line AND linebacking corps, with Woodley not returning after his injury. Kudos to the backups for stepping up against a usually red-hot offense. (I wouldn't worry about this too much either, Patriots fans. You'll make the playoffs.) Keisel fighting to get to Brady at the end of the game was symbolic of how the team played all four quarters: They just wouldn't give up and go away. They're now 2-6 against Gisele's husband, and I couldn't be happier.
Although Steelers fans will relish in this win, there's really only one thing on all of our minds: Revenge against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football. Week 1 seemed like forever ago, and the Ravens actually struggled against the Arizona Cardinals earlier. I for one can't wait to see what happens. Give me Steelers vs. Ravens over Steelers vs. Patriots ANY day. It's shaping up to be quite a classic.