The week 15 game between the Patriots and Steelers came with huge AFC Playoff implications. Coming into this game, the Steelers sat atop the AFC Standings with their 11-2 record, followed by the Patriots at 10-3. The winner of this game was most likely to clinch home field advantage throughout the entirety of the playoffs. In a wild game at Heinz Field, the Patriots walked away with a 27-24 victory over the Steelers, while clinching the AFC East for an NFL record ninth straight season.
This game was crazy for the full 60 minutes of play. Back and forth scoring, with big plays made on both sides of the ball. You could clearly see why these two teams are the two best in the AFC.
Going into the 4th quarter, the score was 24-16 Steelers.
The next score of the game came with 3:56 left on the game clock, as Gostkowski hit a 46-yard field goal after the Patriots were driving and failed to convert on 3rd down. 24-19 Steelers with the lead.
The Steelers got the ball back and failed to garner a 1st down as they went 3-and-out for the first time all game from either side. This put the ball back in Tom Brady‘s hands down by 5, with 2:06 to play at his own 23-yard line. There is no other quarterback in NFL history who is better at these situations than the GOAT, Tom Brady. I’m sure Mike Tomlin was shaking in his pants having to give the ball back to Brady, only being up 5, allowing Brady to man the 2-minute drill.
Brady orchestrated a perfect drive, connecting with Gronk on 3 catches for 69 yards (fitting for him). With the ball down at the Steelers’ 8, Dion Lewis ran in for a TD, followed by a Brady to Gronk 2-point conversation, giving the Patriots the 27-24 lead with 52 seconds left on the clock.
The craziness continues…
The first play of the drive, Roethlisberger finds JuJu Smith-Schuster across the middle and somehow the Patriots’ defense allows him to take it 69 yards, all the way to the NE 10-yard line. You’re thinking they’ll run a few plays attempting to find the end zone or at least let the clock run down, kicking the game-tying FG to force OT.
The very next play, Roethlisberger finds Jesse James at the 1-yard line and as he’s catching the ball, he’s stretching out to attempt to break the plane of the end zone for the score. As he reaches out, he bobbles the ball as he hits the ground. The ruling on the field was a TD. But with every scoring play being reviewed you know the officials are going to look at everything.
THE CALL WAS OVERTURNED.
Pittsburgh was stunned as the entire stadium boo’d the officials. Dez Bryant knows a little about this rule. Nobody knows what a catch in the NFL is anymore, but the ruling was an incomplete pass after the Steelers thought they had the game won.
With the clock at 12 seconds, Big Ben runs a fake spike and then forces the ball into the end zone, where it’s tipped by Eric Rowe and intercepted by Duron Harmon to finish the game.
When opposing teams play the Patriots, they lose their minds. What was Big Ben thinking trying to force a fake spike rather than spiking it and leaving time for another look at a TD? Or they could have tied it up with a FG. But instead, Roethlisberger forced a pass into the end zone, resulting in the Steelers loss.
This was the 53rd time in Brady’s career that he has led the Patriots to victory from a 4th quarter deficit or tie. He’s amazing, simple as that.
With this win the Patriots advance to 11-3, holding the top spot of the AFC and looking primed for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Be prepared to hear a lot of excuses from Pittsburgh and other Patriot haters around the NFL from this game, but a win is a win and the Steelers couldn’t pull it out. Hopefully these two teams will meet again in the AFC Championship Game, where the Patriots own Mike Tomlin and the Steelers.
New England vs. Everybody.
Gronkowski 9 catches for 168 yards and a 2-point conversion
LeVeon Bell had 165 all-purpose yards and a TD
Antonio Brown left the game with a partially torn calf
Rex Burkhead left the game with a knee injury