Sunday, October 30, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Steelers 25, Patriots 17
By Jamison Hensley
PITTSBURGH -- Thoughts on the Pittsburgh Steelers' 25-17 win over the New England Patriots at Heinz Field:
What it means: The Steelers ended the dominance of the Patriots and Tom Brady and made the statement that they're the team to beat in the AFC. Pittsburgh won its fourth straight game but this was its first against a legitimate playoff contender. The Steelers improved to 6-2 to maintain their slim first-place lead over the Ravens and Bengals (both 5-2).
Roethlisberger outshines Brady: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has had success against New England in the past, but this time it was different because he was the best quarterback on the field for that day. Roethlisberger out-dueled Brady in Brady-like fashion, spreading out the Patriots and flinging the ball around out of the shotgun. He completed 36 of 50 passes for 365 yards and two touchdowns. His biggest mistake was a first-half interception, which set up the Patriots' first touchdown.
Thumbs up: Steelers wide receivers. Pittsburgh didn't need Hines Ward, who was out with an ankle sprain. Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders were quick and elusive, getting open on a consistent basis. Each had at least five catches for over 65 yards. Call it catch by committee.
Swat team: Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel secured the win by stripping Brady in the final seconds, which led to the safety. This came after Keisel had jumped up to knock down a Brady pass earlier in the game.
Woodley's streak: A year after the Steelers failed to sack Brady, LaMarr Woodley took the Patriots quarterback down twice. It's the third straight game that Woodley has recorded at least two sacks. He's really stepped up since James Harrison went down with an eye injury. But Woodley is now injured, too, leaving the game with a left hamstring injury.
What's next: After redeeming themselves against Brady and the Patriots, the Steelers look to avenge a season-opening loss to the Ravens next Sunday. Pittsburgh hosts its AFC North rival in prime time Sunday night.