New England at Pittsburgh

Vinatieri, Brady save depleted Pats in Pittsburgh

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
  •  

PITTSBURGH -- All this seemed to be too much, even for a New England Patriots team that always wins big games. The injuries. A second-half deficit. A Pittsburgh Steelers team determined to show it is now the AFC's best team.

COMMENTARY
Patriots worry? Not with clutch Brady steering the offense
by Pete Prisco
What's Your Take?
Tell Pete your opinion!
 

Not yet, they're not -- not after giving Tom Brady and Adam Vinatieri a chance to beat them in the fourth quarter.

The Patriots, badly depleted by injuries, withstood the longest scoring pass play against them in 15 years and two turnovers inside the Pittsburgh 10 to rally in the fourth quarter behind Brady, beating the Steelers 23-20 Sunday on Vinatieri's 43-yard field goal with one second remaining.

"They showed us today why they're the champs," Steelers linebacker Larry Foote said.

It's also why the Patriots have won three of the last four Super Bowls.

New England (2-1), trailing for most of the game, led 20-13 late in the fourth quarter when a pass interference call on Chad Scott on a fourth-and-11 play set up Ben Roethlisberger's second scoring pass to Hines Ward, a 4-yarder that tied it with 1:21 remaining.

But that was too much time for Brady, the NFL's best late-in-the-game quarterback, and Vinatieri, its best clutch kicker.

"Our coaches always get us in situations where we can make plays," said David Givens, who made nine catches for 130 yards. "There always seems to be time for us to come back."

Brady, shouldering most of the offense, completed his last 12 passes and went 31-of-41 for 372 yards and Corey Dillon, all but absent the week before in a 27-17 loss at Carolina, scored twice on short runs to help end Pittsburgh's 16-game regular-season winning streak. Dillon's 7-yard run early in the fourth made it 17-13 -- New England's first lead since 7-0 on Dillon's 4-yard run on its first possession.

The Patriots won in the same stadium where their record 18-game regular season streak ended last season with a 34-20 loss on Oct. 31. They came back 2½ months later and manhandled the Steelers 41-27 in the AFC Championship Game, the second time in four seasons their road to a Super Bowl title ran through Heinz Field.

Just as in that game, the Patriots all but took away Pittsburgh's running game -- Willie Parker, coming off consecutive 100-yard games, was held to 55 yards -- and forced Roethlisberger to try and beat them.

The Steelers (2-1) also didn't help themselves when, early in the second, Antwaan Randle El tried pitching the ball to Ward as he was about to be tackled on a 49-yard gain to the New England 11. Randle El's errant toss was recovered by the Patriots.

"It was a bonehead play," Randle El said. "The team rule is, if you're going to try that play, you'd better make it."

Roethlisberger, who hasn't lost to any other team in 18 NFL starts, counting the postseason, wasn't much better than he was in that AFC title game loss, when he threw three interceptions. Under a heavy rush, he went 12-of-28 for 216 yards in his first loss in 16 regular-season starts, despite going against a badly depleted Patriots defense.

Already without three injured cornerbacks, including starter Tyrone Poole, the Patriots lost backup cornerback Duane Starks on the Steelers' first play from scrimmage, though he returned later. Then, after allowing an 85-yard Ward TD reception, safety Rodney Harrison and left tackle Matt Light went down with leg injuries.

Harrison was driven to the team bus on a cart, and Light was seen with a cast on his right leg.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said nothing when asked about the injuries, which forced the Patriots to patch together a secondary on almost every series and to call plays that kept the pressure off rookie offensive linemen Logan Mankins and Nick Kaczur. They gave up two sacks early in the second half before tightening up.

"Because of all the changes they had to make, they had people all over the place," Roethlisberger said. "Guys were going down, they were moving people around. They had a guy who's normally a linebacker (Mike Vrabel) lining up at safety and playing deep."

Despite Roethlisberger's misthrows and incompletions, the Steelers led 13-10 early in the fourth after New England twice moved inside the Pittsburgh 10 without scoring.

Linebacker Clark Haggans stripped the ball from Kevin Faulk after a 15-play drive to the Steelers' 8 early in the second quarter, and Brady was intercepted on a tipped ball late in the first half after New England had a first down at the 3.

"But we kept it close," Vrabel said. "It's important for us that you keep it close, because we have a lot of confidence that if we keep it close, we can win it in the end."

The Steelers' Jeff Reed, whose team-record streak of 21 consecutive field goals ended when he missed a 52-yarder, hit from 33 and 24 yards. But Vinatieri cut it to 13-10 late in the third quarter with a 48-yarder, and made a 35-yarder in the fourth to stretch it to 20-13.

"We felt we were in control. But they played 60 minutes and we didn't. So now we've got to regroup and let's try to win 13 straight," Ward said.

Notes

  • Ward's TD catch was the longest against the Patriots since an 86-yarder by Kansas City in 1990.
  • Brady notched his 50th career victory in his 65th game. The only QB to win 50 in fewer games was Oakland's Ken Stabler, who did it in 62 games.
  • Pittsburgh's 11-game home winning streak also ended.
  • Belichick is 4-1 against Pittsburgh with New England.
  • Dillon had 61 yards on 22 carries after having 99 yards in the first two games.
  • New England had four sacks after having two in two games.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
Corey Dillon scores the first of his two touchdowns with a 4-yard run in the opening quarter.
 
Corey Dillon scores the first of his two touchdowns with a 4-yard run in the opening quarter. (Getty Images)
 

 

Latest Video

Sun. Sept. 25Final
7031323
1003720
Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
TDCorey Dillon, 4 Yd run (Adam Vinatieri kick is good), 9:47. Drive: 7 plays, 46 yards in 3:33.
TDHines Ward, 85 Yd pass from Ben Roethlisberger (Jeff Reed kick is good), 9:32. Drive: 1 play, 85 yards in 0:15.
FGJeff Reed 33 Yd, 4:42. Drive: 7 plays, 34 yards in 2:57.
2ND QUARTER
None
3RD QUARTER
FGJeff Reed 24 Yd, 6:08. Drive: 6 plays, 22 yards in 2:56.
FGAdam Vinatieri 48 Yd, 0:14. Drive: 4 plays, 0 yards in 0:51.
4TH QUARTER
TDCorey Dillon, 7 Yd run (Adam Vinatieri kick is good), 10:37. Drive: 7 plays, 86 yards in 3:42.
FGAdam Vinatieri 35 Yd, 3:19. Drive: 7 plays, 59 yards in 4:08.
TDHines Ward, 4 Yd pass from Ben Roethlisberger (Jeff Reed kick is good), 1:21. Drive: 9 plays, 51 yards in 1:58.
FGAdam Vinatieri 43 Yd, 0:01. Drive: 5 plays, 37 yards in 1:20.
Players of the Game

H. Ward
Rec 4
Yds 110
Avg 27.5
TD 2

C. Dillon
Rush 22
Yds 61
Avg 2.8
TD 2
 
New England
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
T. Brady31/4137201
RushingATTYDSTDLG
C. Dillon226129
K. Faulk71404
P. Pass1505
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
D. Givens9130030
D. Branch678022
K. Faulk771023
T. Brown443019
C. Dillon223019
P. Pass114014
B. Watson110010
B. Johnson1303
Pittsburgh
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
B. Roethlisberger12/2821620
RushingATTYDSTDLG
W. Parker1755011
B. Roethlisberger317010
V. Haynes2706
C. Wilson1000
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
H. Ward4110285
A. Randle El256049
V. Haynes118018
C. Wilson216010
H. Miller113013
Q. Morgan1909
W. Parker1-60-6
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
KC 10 Final
DEN 30
NYG 23 Final
SD 45
ARI 12 Final
SEA 37
DAL 34 Final
SF 31
TEN 27 Final
STL 31
OAK 20 Final
PHI 23
JAC 26 Final
NYJ 20
NO 16 Final
MIN 33
CAR 24 Final
MIA 27
CLE 6 Final
IND 13
TB 17 Final
GB 16
CIN 24 Final
CHI 7
ATL 24 Final
BUF 16