Nothing hurts worse than losing a game you feel like should have resulted in a win. That is exactly what I would say happened Sunday afternoon against the Steelers in what was a playoff atmosphere. Patriots vs Steelers has the “these teams don’t like each other” feel as the two sides have clashed in some huge games over the years. When these team’s matchup the game always seems to go down to the wire. This game was no different, though this time the Steelers came out on top.
What made this loss so difficult, beyond the playoff implications, was that it felt like a winnable game. I hate to be generic, but the Patriots really did shoot themselves in the foot and played like a losing football team. They had four dropped passes, three of which were uncontested passes right on the numbers. To add to that they committed 14 penalties, the most by the Patriots since 2014. Also, Tom Brady throw a horrible pass on an extremely uncharacteristic play that was picked off by Joe Haden.
The defense got carved up yardage wise but came through in the clutch. Duran Harmon caught two interceptions off two poor choices by Ben Roethlisberger, as the team held the Steelers dynamic offense to only 17 points. The Patriots defense played good enough to win this game and clinch the AFC East despite looking lost at times.
The killer is that the Steelers kept hurting themselves too. Pittsburg was unable to put points on the board despite moving the ball downfield consistently. A large part of that was aided by Harmon and the previously mentioned interceptions. They also missed a chip shot field-goal as Chris Boswell is known to do. The only time the Patriots were able to make plays was when the Steelers had massive blown coverages in the secondary. Chris Hogan will never be more open in his life than he was on that touchdown. The other notable pass was when Edelman caught a big chunk play where two defenders ran into each other and knocked themselves down.
The Patriots did not play like a Super Bowl contenders and more than likely just lost the a chance for a first-round bye week in the playoffs. The good news is that the Patriots still have the tie-breaker over the Texans and could sneak into the second seed if things start to go wrong in Houston. Regardless of what happened tonight, they will have another shot at a championship this season, and the Patriots still have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. That means anything can happen.
Scott Neville – Co-Owner – WTF Sports