PATRIOTS 28, STEELERS 21**
Steelers' record: 0-1
One year ago: 1-0
Series record (including playoffs): Steelers lead, 15-13
"We can talk about Tom and Gronk," said Coach Mike Tomlin, "but I'm sure they're also talking about Ben and AB. This week, I focused on the guys who play besides those four I just mentioned. If you put the focus there, we have to be great in the turnover game, we have to be good on possession downs on both offense and defense, and we have to get a leg up in the kicking game. We have a couple of established punt returners out there tonight – talking about their group and our group – and I would imagine the punt return group that has a positive impact is going to be a big, big, factor in the game."
During the first half, the Steelers gave Tomlin little of what he was looking for. The Steelers offense converted 3-for-8 third downs (38 percent), while the Patriots converted 4-of-5 (80 percent). The Steelers had more total net yards than New England, but the kicking game was heavily in the Patriots' favor simply because Josh Scobee missed field goals of 46 and 44 yards.
The Steelers ended up converting 7-of-15 third downs, while the Patriots finished at 7-of-11. But where the game was won/lost came in the performance of the respective offenses in the red zone. The Steelers were 2-for-3, but only 1-of-2 in goal-to-go situations, while the Patriots were a perfect 4-for-4.
The missed field goals hurt badly, but the killer was the Steelers' inability to score a touchdown after having a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line early in the fourth quarter of a game they trailed at the time by 21-11. On a third-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Alejandro Villanueva and Kelvin Beachum reacted to movement by the New England defensive front and the penalty called was a false start. The Steelers ended up settling for a 24-yard field goal and trailed, 21-14, with 11:39 remaining in the game.
FIRST HALF STAT THAT STANDS OUT
During the 2012-14 seasons, Shaun Suisham was 30-for-30 from between 40-49 yards. In the first half of his first game with the Steelers, Josh Scobee was 1-for-3, with the misses coming on his first two attempts and both of them were wide right. According to Elias Sports, that marked the first time a kicker missed his first two field goals in a Steelers uniform since 1970.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT I**
The 100-yard game by DeAngelo Williams was the first of his career with the Steelers, and the 20th of his NFL career.
IT WAS OVER WHEN …
Trailing by 14 points with around seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Ben Roethlisberger tried to go deep down the left sideline to Darrius Heyward-Bey. The ball was underthrown a bit, and safety Duron Harmon came over and made the interception at the New England 7-yard line. By the time the Steelers got the ball back, the Patriots had burned another four minutes off the game clock.
NO SURPRISE AT ALL
This is the kind of stuff that happens to the visiting team in Gillette Stadium all the time. From the start of the game through the opening 14 minutes of the first quarter, the Steelers' coaches' headsets were receiving the Patriots Radio Network broadcast of the game. The broadcast was so loud that the Steelers coaches were unable to communicate, and the NFL rule is that if one team's headsets are not working the other team is supposed to be forced to take their headsets off. It's what the NFL calls the Equity Rule. Strangely enough, whenever an NFL representative proceeded to the New England sideline to shut down their headsets, the Steelers headsets cleared. Then as the representative walked away from the New England sideline, the Steelers' headsets again started to receive the Patriots game broadcast.