Best and Worst: Patriots 27, Steelers 24
Patrick Chung stayed with Steelers tight end Jesse James on a loooooong downfield third-down throw in the first quarter and slapped it down to prevent a long-gainer and end the Steelers first drive.
The Steelers gummed up their first third down of the game defensively by jumping offsides and giving the Patriots a fresh set of downs that they used to stick it in the end zone.
In a play reminiscent of the 2004 AFC Championship touchdown to Deion Branch, Tom Brady faked a pair of reverses before uncorking a 43-yard bomb to a free-running Brandin Cooks.
BROWN AND OUT
Antonio Brown got his leg caught in the crossfire early in the second quarter on an end-zone incompletion and had to leave. Bad luck for Pittsburgh and his MVP hopes if the thing lingers.
LONG ROAD HOME
The Steelers ate most of the second quarter with a 15-play, 8:39 drive that ended with a touchdown flip from Roethlisberger to Martavis Bryant and put the Steelers up 17-10 at the break.
UNDERSTANDING THE STAKES
The Patriots went for it on fourth-and-1 in the red zone early in the third quarter, an acknowledgment that they needed touchdowns and not field goals. They picked it up and got the six on a throw to Brandin Cooks.
Stephen Gostkowski yanked a PAT attempt in the third quarter. The snap and placement weren’t clean, but the result meant the Patriots were in a chase position after that.
SHADES OF KEVEN HENRY
Just like the Brady-to-Cooks bomb that harkened back to an earlier time, the Tom Brady pick in the second half was reminiscent of a pick Drew Bledsoe once threw back in 1997 to a Steelers defensive lineman named Keven Henry.
THIRD AND WRONG
The Steelers were 10-for-13 on third down through the first 50 minutes of football. That’s not a recipe for outstanding defensive results.