The Patriots continue to steamroll through the AFC North as they defeated the Steelers 27-16 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon. LeGarrette Blount (who, in a black and yellow uniform, walked off the field mid-game last time he played at Heinz Field) ran for 127 yards and two touchdowns for the Pats. Rob Gronkowski also had a touchdown catch and Brady threw up the deuces with 222 passing yards and 2 touchdowns.
Landry Jones looked formidable at quarterback for the Steelers. Bill Belichick and the Patriots defense were content in only rushing four guys and letting the former University of Oklahoma quarterback sit back in the pocket and hopefully make mistakes. He ended the day with only one interception, but struggled to convert drives into touchdowns. Jones ended the day with 281 passing yards.
Mike Tomlin made some bone-headed coaching decisions in deciding to challenge a clear non-fumble in the first half and then deciding to kick a 54-yard field goal with just over nine minutes to go the fourth quarter of an 11-point game. Chris Boswell missed the attempt that pretty much sealed the win for the Patriots.
Pittsburgh’s real weapon on Sunday was running back Le’veon Bell. The 24-year-old back finished with 149 all-purpose yards (81 rushing and 68 receiving) as he cut up the Patriots defense. The Patriots defenders will have to learn from their mistakes quickly as they will have their hands full with LeSean McCoy next week when they head up to Buffalo.
On the offensive side of the ball, Blount had himself a day thanks to the offensive line play. The Patriots are committed to sticking with five constant offensive linemen instead of the silly rotation they had going last year. The plan is working and Blount continues to have all kinds of running room.
Brady also stayed upright for most of the game. An improvement from the week before when the Bengals were getting decent pressure on TB12.
Lastly, Stephen Gostkowski needs help.
In the larger picture of the AFC, this was a big win for the Patriots.
Yes, not having Big Ben made a difference, but this is still a huge step for home field advantage for the Patriots. Roethlisberger, injured or not, will surely be back under center in the playoffs and Heinz Field is sneakily a tough stadium for opponents. Very rowdy and very windy. Kind of like Mile High Stadium minus the whole Mile High part. Would much rather see the Steelers and their OCD inducing single-logo helmets on the safe and very undangerous field turf at Gillette Stadium.