What a difference a week makes. Last week, the Pats were embarrassed by the Cleveland Browns. Late Sunday night, they went into Pittsburgh and trounced the Steelers 39-26. The score really doesn’t indicate what the game truly was, which was a thorough beating of the Steelers. Much of the Steelers points and yardage came with the game out reach. The defense came out and played exceptionally well against the Steeler offense, sacking Ben Roethlisberger five times. Mike Wright and Tully Banta-Cain tied for the team lead with 1.5 sacks each. James Sanders picked off Roethlisberger for a 32-yard interception return for a touchdown. Offensively, the Patriots executed to near perfection, marching 70 yards down the field on their opening drive and scoring on a Brady-to-Gronkowski 19-yard touchdown reception. After a game to forget last week for Gronkowski, he rebounded nicely and caught 5 passes for 72 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The stat line would make one think that Big Ben had a great night at QB for the Steelers. He went 30 of 49 for 387 yards, 3 touchdowns and an INT, good for a QB rating of 97.9. However, the majority of those 19 incompletions came when the game was still within reach. Several of those, to Roethlisberger’s credit, were dropped balls. The Steelers did have several miscues on offense, but the Patriot defense played a large role in those 19 incompletions. Tom Brady, meanwhile, was an efficient 30 of 43 for 350 yards and 3 touchdowns, good for a QB rating of 117.4. Tom also quarterback sneaked 3 yards into the end zone for a touchdown. Brady was never sacked the entire game, which is a huge credit to the offensive line. It’s not an easy job blocking the Pittsburgh defense, but the offensive line did a great job.
The rushing stats are almost the opposite of what you would expect. The Pats held the Steelers to under 100 yards rushing (76 total) while the Patriots went over 100 rushing yards as a team, with BenJarvus Green-Ellis leading the way with 87 yards on 18 carries (4.8 YPC). Part of holding the Steelers to only 76 rushing yards was the fact that they were playing catch-up for the entire game. The Steelers never had a lead in the game. They only rushed 16 times the entire game.
The Patriots are now 7-2 and tied for the best record in the NFL once again with the New York Jets and the Atlanta Falcons. Next week is a big game which will, as it usually does, play a large role in the post-season seeding. The Pats host the Colts, a team that despite its injuries, can still take advantage of the Patriots’ young defense because Peyton Manning is still standing upright. It should be a great game, but for now, the Pats can savor a big win in Pittsburgh.