Final, Patriots 55-31: This is what we call a statement win. Brady has finally silenced his critics by having a vintage game for the future hall-of-famer.
Brady struggled the first eight weeks of the season. But he had a near-perfect quarterback rating in this one, completing 70 percent of his passes for 432 yards and four touchdowns.
The defense let up more yards than they may prefer, but I’m sure they’ll take it with this kind of win.
Fourth quarter, 2:41, Patriots 55-31: Good god, this one got ugly. LeGarrette Blount put the Patriots up by 24 with a touchdown run. Now it’s on the defense to close it out.
Fourth quarter, 3:19, Patriots 48-31: These Rutgers rookies, man.
Duron Harmon just got his second interception of the season. From this view, there was no one really around Harmon.
Fourth quarter, 5:15, Patriots 48-31: In a perfect world, the Patriots probably wanted to take more than a minute off the clock. But I guess an 81-yard touchdown will do.
Aaron Dobson has 130 yards on the day and Brady has 432. It appears Brady found comfort in his receivers.
Fourth quarter, 6:15, Patriots 41-31: After a three-minute drive, the Steelers are back within 10. Jerricho Cotchery made a one-handed catch to get Pittsburgh into the end zone. He has seven catches for 96 yards with three touchdowns.
Fourth quarter, 9:16, Patriots 41-24: And Stevan Ridley is back in the end zone. Ridley has his first 100-yard game of the season. He now has 26 carries for 115 yards and two touchdowns. He’s a stud.
That drive was almost all Ridley, though Gronkowski made a big first-down catch. This offense looks back and better than they’ve played all season.
Fourth quarter, 12:44, Patriots 34-24: Isaac Sopoaga, Kyle Arrington and Dane Fletcher had key plays to get the ball back into Tom Brady’s hands.
Sopoaga had a near fat guy inteception, Arrington had a nice pass breakup/strip and Dane Fletcher came up big in the third quarter with his second sack of the season.
Fletcher has played very well as the team’s dime linebacker.
Fourth quarter, 14:00, Patriots 34-24: The Patriots have jumped back to a 10-point lead. Edelman’s punt return got them most of the way. Ridley had some nice runs, then Brady hit Aaron Dobson for a 17-yard touchdown to the left front corner of the end zone.
Dobson has really emerged in the last two weeks. This play is under review. We’ll see if it holds.
Update: It stands.
End third quarter, Patriots 27-24: The Patriots’ defense bent a little on that drive, but they certainly didn’t break. Roethlisberger was a little off to Antonio Brown and Heath Miller.
Julian Edelman’s punt return gave New England amazing field possession. He brought the ball back to Pittsburgh’s 34-yard line.
Third quarter, 2:39, Patriots 27-24: There was a scare midway through that scoring drive by the Patriots. Rob Gronkowski limped off to the sidelines but came back into the game after taking a few plays off.
Stephen Gostkowski knocked the ball through for three to give New England the lead.
Stevan Ridley was big on that drive. It’s nice to see Belichick did not lose faith in his starting running back after the fumble.
Third quarter, 7:10, 24-24: Some huge injuries have allowed the Steelers to come right back into this game. Steve Gregory hurt his hand or wrist and was immediately taken by the medical staff into the locker room. Duron Harmon replaced him.
Logan Ryan got beat by Jerricho Cotchery for a touchdown. This is a tie game now.
Third quarter, 9:28, Patriots 24-17: After some crappy play and injuries, the energy has been sucked out of the stadium. New England went three-and-out, though Stevan Ridley did come back out for a carry and a reception.
Rob Ninkovich is questionable to return with a foot injury. He’s still in the locker room.
Third quarter, 11:02, Patriots 24-17: Well, that second half did not start as the Patriots may have hoped. Jerricho Cotchery beat Kyle Arrington for a touchdown and Rob Ninkovich headed to the locker room with an injury.
Austin Collie will not return to the game after suffering a knee injury. New England has just three receivers, plus Matthew Slater, for the remainder of the game.
Third quarter, 12:56, Patriots 24-10: The Patriots were moving the ball down the field once again, but Ridley fumbled on a completion from Brady. The play is under review, but it’s looking like it will stand.
Update: It was confirmed. Pittsburgh ball.
End half, Patriots 24-10: Pittsburgh did just that and the Patriots have the lead going into the half.
Second quarter, :10, Patriots 24-10: Two pass interference calls allowed Stevan Ridley to score from the goal line. Ridley now has 40 yards on 12 carries with a touchdown.
Brady has been the star of the game. He’s 13 of 18 for 252 yards with two touchdowns.
The Steelers will likely just kneel on the ball to end the half.
Second quarter, 1:55, Patriots 17-10: Alfonzo Dennard couldn’t keep up with Antonio Brown on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger. With that, the Steelers are right back in this game.
Second quarter, 2:00, Patriots 17-3: The Patriots are having some trouble against the run again. Jonathan Dwyer just ripped off a 30-yard carry. Pittsburgh has 63 yards on 14 carries. The Steelers have the ball at the Patriots’ 27-yard line.
Second quarter, 3:51, Patriots 17-3: The Patriots aren’t having much of a problem moving the ball in this one. The Steelers left Danny Amendola wide open. And I mean WIDE OPEN on a 43-yard grab. New England couldn’t punch the ball in from inside the red zone, but they still got three out of Stephen Gostkowski.
The Gillette Stadium crowd just sang Three LIttle Birds by Bob Marley in unison while they showed Shane Victorino on the video screen.
Second quarter, 7:36, Patriots 14-3: Emmanuel Sanders burned Kyle Arrington pretty good down the left sideline, but Ben Roethlisberger couldn’t hit Sanders for two throws down the right side of the field.
The Steelers settled for three points on a Shaun Suisham field goal.
Second quarter, 10:30, Patriots 14-0: These Patriots are looking pretty good. Or maybe the Steelers are just terrible. OK, the Steelers are pretty terrible.
Pittsburgh cannot cover Rob Gronkowski at all. He has six catches for 110 yards and a touchdown. He had two big plays on that drive.
Second quarter, 12:36, Patriots 7-0: The Steelers got the first fourth-and-inches, but couldn’t get the second one. The Patriots get the ball back at their own 33-yard line.
Dont’a Hightower made a great play on fourth down, filling his gap and blowing up the fullback, disrupting the play.
End first quarter, Patriots 7-0: After one, the Patriots have the lead here in Foxboro. Chandler Jones had a key sack, but the Steelers nearly got the first down on third-and-29. It appears they may go for it. It’s fourth-and-inches to go.
First quarter, 4:00, Patriots 7-0: That Pittsburgh drive lasted just six seconds. Devin McCourty picked off Ben Roethlisberger. McCourty has been incredible this season. He’s playing like the best safety in the NFL.
The next play? A 34-yard touchdown from Tom Brady to Danny Amendola. Patriots lead 7-0.
First quarter, 4:12: Well, Rob Gronkowski is back and as good as ever. He had three massive first-down receptions, one of which got the Patriots down a few inches within the goal line.
Once down there, Brandon Bolden took in the one-yard carry for a score. The play is under review. We’ll update you on whether it’s good or not. Regardless, the Steelers jumped offsides on the play, so New England will have another chance to score if this gets reversed.
Update: The call was reversed and the Patriots failed to score from the half-yard line on a Ridley run on fourth down. Pittsburgh ball.
First quarter, 8:07: Still no score here almost midway through the first quarter. Rob Ninkovich made a nice play on first down, sealing off the edge.
So far, Alfonzo Dennard has been shadowing Antonio Brown all over the field. That’s a tough matchup for both players. Dennard can prove himself as a pseudo shutdown corner if he can handle Brown.
First quarter, 10:20: The Patriots couldn’t do anything with their first possession. Stevan Ridley got the start, carrying the ball twice. Tom Brady was sacked on third down after he looked to be tucking the ball down.
Ryan Allen’s punt went through the end zone. So the Steelers will start on the 20.
First quarter, 12:05: The Steelers weren’t having much trouble moving the ball down the field, but on third down, Rob Ninkovich got the strip sack, recovered by defensive tackle Joe Vellano.
Isaac Sopoaga got the start at nose tackle in the 3-4. Vellano and Chris Jones were used as DEs. Ninkovich and Chandler Jones were OLBs.
Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington were the starting cornerbacks. Logan Ryan came in on nickel.
First quarter, 15:00: The Steelers won the toss and will receive.
4:15 p.m.: John Henry, Jonny Gomes, Will Middlebrooks, Clay Buchholz, Shane Victorino, Brian Butterfield, Stephen Drew, Felix Doubront, Jon Lester, Matt Thornton, John McDonald and Stephen Drew are here representing the Red Sox with the World Series trophy.
Gomes sprinted through the tunnel in his now famous red boots.
3:55 p.m.: It looks like it could be another day that Stevan Ridley gets a delayed start. LeGarrette Blount was lining up with the first-team offense with Aaron Dobson, Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski.
3:26 p.m.: The Red Sox will be on hand for the start of the Patriots game with their new trophy. Shane Victorino and Clay Buchholz are among the players who will be present.
3:12 p.m.: Aqib Talib is out for the third straight game. Kenbrell Thompkins is a major surprise as a healthy scratch.
Chris Barker, Jake Bequette, Steve Beauharnais, Leon Washington and Josh Boyce round out the inactives.
2:49 p.m.: The entire secondary is on the field stretching with Moses Cabrera except for Steve Gregory and Aqib Talib. Matthew Slater is out there with them too.
1:22 p.m.: I just made my way through the Route 1 traffic and stadium security to the press box. The stadium is empty and there are no players warming up on the field.
The big pregame question is whether Aqib Talib plays this afternoon. I would assume he won’t based on his media availability this week. It’s supposed to be a brisk 43 degrees at game time.
8 a.m. ET: It all depends on how Bill Belichick decides to use him, but if Stevan Ridley is given ample opportunities, the running back could have his first 100-yard game of the season.
Ridley’s come close this year. He had 96 yards on 20 carries against New Orleans in Week 6. Ridley had 79 yards on 14 carries last week against the Dolphins.
The LSU product had four 100-yard rushing days last season. All of those games came in the first eight weeks of the season.
The Steelers are 27th in the league against the run. They’re allowing 121.9 yards per game. Their nine rushing touchdowns against also rank 27th, though they’re 15th in yards per carry with 4.0.
Pittsburgh has allowed two rushers to go over 100 yards this season – Adrian Peterson in Week 4 and Terrelle Pryor in Week 8.
It could be another down week for Tom Brady. The Steelers are allowing just 181 passing yards per game, good for second in the NFL. Though, some of that has to do with the hot starts opposing teams have got off to and their level of competition.
If all goes according to plan for the Patriots, they should win this game. But it would be easy to look past Pittsburgh with the bye week on the horizon. The team knows it will be without Tommy Kelly, who was placed on injured reserve, and Shane Vereen, who remains on short-term IR for one more week.
There are only three players listed as questionable this week: Kyle Arrington (groin), Leon Washington (ankle) and Aqib Talib (hip). Arrington is expected to play.
The real question is whether we see Talib for the first week since he injured his hip against New Orleans. It may make sense for the Patriots to hold him out one more week and through the by so he’ll be ready for Carolina and Denver. Alfonzo Dennard, Logan Ryan, Arrington and the rest of the secondary has been successful with and without Talib.
We’ll be coming at you live from Gillette Stadium for Steelers-Patriots. Stay tuned for all the news and updates starting pregame.