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Defense had plenty of tricks & treats

Posted Oct 19, 2016

A look back at a memorable win over the New England Patriots in 2004.

Steelers 34, New England Patriots 20
October 31, 2004
Heinz Field

The New England Patriots came to Heinz Field riding a 21-game winning streak, the longest in NFL history, but it wasn’t enough to beat a Steelers team that dominated that day.

A complete game left the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots shaking their heads, as the Steelers easily won 34-20.

The defense rattled quarterback Tom Brady, who was sacked four times and intercepted twice, including a 39-yard interception return for a touchdown by cornerback Deshea Townsend. Joey Porter accounted for eight tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles, playing one of his best games in recent years.

“We had a nice lead. Once we had the lead, we knew they were going to pass the ball,” said Porter. “When they pass the ball, you have a quarterback like Brady who’s not going to run out of the pocket. You can kind of rush any way you want to – just go get the quarterback. I was trying to take advantage of my opportunities.

“It’s big. It’s a momentum booster for us. The defense just came out there and kept playing hard and the offense kept responding every time.”

Led by rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger the offense did their part and then some. Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes while Duce Staley rushed for 125 yards and Jerome Bettis added 65 yards rushing and a touchdown.

“In order to try to be the champs, you have to beat them,” said Bettis. “We got what we wanted. We got a big game, we got an opportunity to beat the champs, and we got an opportunity to show the nation what we're made of.”

The Patriots got on the board first with an Adam Vinatieri field goal. But on the Steelers third possession of the game they got things rolling. Roethlisberger hit Plaxico Burress for a 47-yard touchdown pass to give the Steelers a 7-3 lead.

The lead would soon grow after Porter sacked Brady, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Kimo von Oelfhoffen at the New England 27-yard line. With a short field to work with Roethlisberger wasted no time finding Burress again, this time for a four-yard scoring strike and 14-3 lead.

The Halloween nightmare continued for the Patriots when on their next play from scrimmage Townsend intercepted Brady and took it down the sideline for the 39-yard touchdown and 21-3 first quarter lead.

“It’s something we worked on all week in practice. Actually, I caught one of those in practice earlier in the week. I saw the fullback go to the flat and I kind of knew that the curl was coming.”

An Ike Taylor interception led to a Jeff Reed field goal to extend the lead to 24-3, before the Patriots were finally able to get into the end zone for a 24-10 score at the half.

Bettis kept the Steelers rolling with his third quarter touchdown for a 31-10 lead.

With their backs against the wall the Patriots, who were missing running back Corey Dillon, kept it in the air with Brady going out of the shotgun, but they could only muster a 25-yard field goal after three incomplete passes.

The Steelers answered with a field goal of their own to extend the lead to 34-13, and the Patriots were only able to muster one more touchdown as the Steelers walked away with a 34-20 victory.

“It was a big win for us,” said Roethlisberger. “They are a great team.  I give New England a lot of credit. They threw a lot of things at us offensively and defensively. I think we stuck it out and we came out with the victory. That was the most important thing.”

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Listen to the original radio broadcast of this game. Steelers Time Machine debuts on SNR each Wednesday at 1 p.m. Click here for more information