Nov 3, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) reacts after a pass interference call against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
The New England Patriots faced off against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Foxboro, MA on a beautiful autumn afternoon in November. With the 2-5 Steelers desperate for a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Patriots faced a trap game with players potentially looking ahead to the bye week. After a first half highlighted by big plays by tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Danny Amendola allowed the Patriots to take a lead of 24 to 10 at the half.
With a 24 to 10 lead at the half, the Patriots got the ball to start the second half and had the chance to bury the Steelers early in the second half. Instead, the Patriots let the Steelers back in the game with a turnover to start the second half and a subsequent Steelers touchdown swung momentum to the visitors. After a bad first half last week against the Dolphins, the Patriots appeared to put their first half maladies behind them, but this week the third quarter blues were back with a vengeance. Fortunately, the Patriots exploded in the fourth quarter as they put up 28 points and made a close game into a laugher.
The Patriots defense struggled in the running game again, and without Aqib Talib and losing starting safety Steven Gregory to a thumb injury further weakened the secondary against a powerful passing offense. The Patriots game plan was clearly to put pressure on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger with linebacker blitzes. When not blitzing. the defense was paying extra attention to top receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown and leaving Jerricho Cotchery in single coverage with rookie Logan Ryan.
On offense, everything seemed to click for the first time this season. Tight end Rob Gronkowski was dominant. Wide receivers Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson stepped up big for the team. Running back Stevan Ridley wore down the defense and backup LeGarrette Blount came on late to bring down the hammer. Finally, and most importantly, Tom Brady finally looked like the real Tom Brady as he led the offense to over 600 yards of offense. Going into the bye week, the team could not have asked for a better offensive performance.