Steelers Lose Despite Huge Offensive Output
By JIMMY GOLEN
AP Sports Writer
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Ben Roethlisberger threw for 400 yards and four touchdowns while leading the Pittsburgh Steelers offense to 31 points against the New England Patriots.
Plenty of scoring on most days.
Not against the Patriots on Sunday.
“They’re a good offense. But we need to score more points,” Roethlisberger said after New England broke a third-quarter tie and pulled away to beat the Steelers 55-31. “To me, it’s about winning and losing. We lost. Offensively, we have to be better.”
Roethlisberger turned the ball over on two of Pittsburgh’s first three possessions, and the Steelers fell behind 14-0 early in the second quarter. It was 24-10 when Roethlisberger hit Jerricho Cotchery for a pair of touchdowns to tie it.
But Pittsburgh got one first down in its next two possessions, punting twice. And, after another touchdown catch by Cotchery, Roethlisberger threw his second interception of the game.
Meanwhile, Tom Brady led New England to four straight touchdowns and the Patriots (7-2) pulled away.
The 55 points were the most scored in an NFL game this season and the most ever scored against the Steelers (2-6).
“I don’t care if it’s the most points we have ever given up or not,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “It ain’t any more sickening or less sickening based on those results.”
Brady threw for season highs of 432 yards and four touchdowns, and Rob Gronkowski had a career-high nine receptions for New England. Asked about Brady’s performance, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu said, “It was a winning performance.
“He did everything great quarterbacks do,” Polamalu said in a somber Steelers locker room.
Brady had 252 yards passing in the first half, and 119 of those came on seven catches by Gronkowski.
The star tight end, in his third game since missing the first six with back and forearm problems, caught his first touchdown of the season to give the Patriots a 14-0 lead with 4:30 gone in the second quarter.
New England piled up 610 yards, third most in team history and the most ever allowed by the Steelers.
“We are going to go through this with a fine-toothed comb,” Tomlin said. “And those people who are lacking effort won’t be playing. It’s just that simple.”
Until Sunday, Brady had been having a mediocre season. He threw for just 116 yards a week earlier in a 27-17 win over the Miami Dolphins, struggling to communicate with his rookie receivers and with Gronkowski recovering from a series of offseason operations. Brady also was uncharacteristically inaccurate on his throws.
But he was sharp all day, completing 23 of 33 passes against a defense that let receivers run free for several long receptions, including a 57-yarder to Danny Amendola that set up Stephen Gostkowski’s 20-yard field goal that made it 17-3.
Brady threw scoring passes of 34 yards to Amendola, and 17 and 81 yards to Aaron Dobson, while Stevan Ridley rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns.
The Patriots led 24-10 at halftime before the Steelers tied it on their first two series of the third quarter on Roethlisberger’s touchdown passes to Cotchery of 20 and 8 yards.
He added a 6-yarder to Cotchery midway through the fourth quarter that made it 41-31. But two plays after the kickoff, Brady launched a pass down the left sideline that Dobson caught at the Steelers 40 and carried into the end zone.
LeGarrette Blount got the final touchdown on a 5-yard run with 2:41 left.
Three Patriots had more than 100 yards receiving, Gronkowski with 143, Dobson with 130 and Amendola with 122.
New England scored on its last four possessions of the first half and led 24-10 at intermission before the Steelers tied it.
Roethlisberger turned the ball over twice on his first two series when he fumbled, then threw an interception to Devin McCourty that led to Brady’s scoring pass to Amendola.
After Gronkowski’s touchdown, Pittsburgh’s Shaun Suisham and Gostkowski traded field goals before Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown for a 27-yard touchdown. It was the 200th touchdown pass of Roethlisberger’s career, second in Steelers history to Terry Bradshaw with 212.
The Patriots got the ball back with 1:50 left in the half and went 77 yards on nine plays and a 1-yard scoring run by Ridley. On the previous play, Shamarko Thomas was called for interfering with Gronkowski in the end zone.
After Cotchery tied it at 24, the Patriots took the lead for good on Gostkowski’s 32-yard field goal.