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Pittsburgh at New England

Steelers slow down Cassel, Patriots with 23-point rout

CBSSports.com wire reports

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Steelers snapped the Patriots' spell over them with a plan that has worked all season: knock 'em down, steal the ball and keep them from gaining yards.

Welker, Patriots feel wrath -- pain -- of Steelers football
by Mike Freeman
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Pittsburgh's top-ranked defense got rolling in the second half, leading the Steelers to a 33-10 win on a cold and rainy Sunday, only their second victory in eight games against New England.

"We heard a lot of talk about it being a rivalry," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. "It hasn't been much of a rivalry until you win some. That's what we talked about coming up here."

The Steelers outscored the Patriots 23-0 in the second half when they had all five of their takeaways and four of their five sacks and gave up 81 yards to a team that had gained more than 500 in each of its two previous games.

"They had to start passing the ball and we didn't have to sit back and try and guess what they were doing," said James Harrison, who sacked Matt Cassel twice, forcing fumbles. "We just pinned our ears back and went at them."

The Steelers (9-3) got two scoring passes from Ben Roethlisberger and four field goals from Jeff Reed and lead Baltimore by one game in the AFC North.

The Patriots (7-5) gained only 267 yards and remained a game behind the New York Jets in the AFC East. They're tied with Miami in the division and trail Indianapolis and Baltimore by one game in the wild-card race.

"A couple of weeks ago, all the games became must wins," said Sammy Morris, who scored the Patriots' only touchdown. "Now it puts a little more emphasis on every game."

The Patriots beat the Steelers in two AFC championship games en route to two of their three Super Bowl titles this decade and dominated them 34-13 in Foxborough last season.

"Two different teams," said Hines Ward, who caught one scoring pass. "(Tom) Brady's out on their team. We're worried about the '08 Steelers not the '07 Steelers."

So are their opponents.

Pittsburgh hasn't allowed more than 290 yards in any game this season and held New England to one conversion on 13 third-down plays.

"The weather didn't matter," New England's Kevin Faulk said. "The turnovers were frustrating. You can't do that and win in this league."

Cassel was 19-for-39 for 169 yards and no touchdowns against Pittsburgh after throwing for at least 400 yards in his past two games. He lost his leading receiver when Wes Welker left late in the third quarter after being leveled by safety Ryan Clark. There was no update on his condition.

Randy Moss dropped two passes while wide open, one of which would have gone for a touchdown in the final minute of the first half. Two plays later, Stephen Gostkowski missed a 27-yard field goal.

"Once you drop one ball, you drop another ball, it does start to affect you mentally," Moss said. "I didn't play good today. I'm not blaming it on the weather."

In the third quarter, Matthew Slater fumbled away a kickoff, setting up Roethlisberger's 11-yard scoring pass to Ward. Slater filled in for Ellis Hobbs, who sat out that play after suffering cramps.

Harrison forced fumbles by Cassel on his two sacks, which gave him 14 for the season. One led to Reed's 20-yard field goal that made it 23-10. Reed missed his kick after the other one.

"That's what we've come to expect from him," Tomlin said of Harrison.

Troy Polamalu's interception with 9:18 left led to Reed's 40-yard field goal. Then Lawrence Timmons returned another interception 89 yards, setting up Gary Russell's 1-yard touchdown run.

"It's not about Matt Cassel," the quarterback said. "It's about 11 guys on offense trying to get better and I could care less about" his game-by-game progress being stopped.

With more than five minutes left, most of the drenched fans had headed to the warmth of their cars. Some who remained waved yellow-and-black Terrible Towels.

New England scored first on Morris' 2-yard run after Mike Vrabel intercepted Roethlisberger's pass on Pittsburgh's second offensive play. Gostkowski's 29-yard field goal gave the Patriots a 10-3 lead before Roethlisberger's 19-yard scoring pass to Santonio Holmes with 1:55 left in the half.

Roethlisberger went 17-for-33 for 179 yards and one interception as the Steelers converted on 8-of-16 third downs and put up their third-highest scoring game of the season despite coming in ranked only 26th in yards gained.

But the defense was the difference.

"It was unbelievable," Roethlisberger said. "You just get to the sideline, put your coat on, your hat on, and, all of a sudden, you're ready to go back on the field."


  • Harrison, with 14 sacks, and Woodley, with 11 1/2, set a club record for most combined sacks by two players.
  • Faulk's 41-yard run was the third longest of his 10-year career.
  • Both teams had 19 first downs, but the Steelers had an edge of 10 minutes, 10 seconds in time of possession.
Copyright 2016 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.
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The Steelers' top-ranked defense gives Matt Cassel and the Patriots plenty of problems, especially in the second half.
The Steelers' top-ranked defense gives Matt Cassel and the Patriots plenty of problems, especially in the second half. (AP)


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Related Links
Sun. Nov. 30Final
PIT - Pass: B. Roethlisberger (17-33, 179), Rush: W. Parker (16-87)
NE - Pass: M. Cassel (19-39, 169), Rush: K. Faulk (6-73)
Scoring Summary
TDSammy Morris, 2 Yd run (Stephen Gostkowski kick is good), 12:01. Drive: 3 plays, 14 yards in 0:45.
FGJeff Reed 20 Yd, 2:51. Drive: 11 plays, 62 yards in 5:48.
FGStephen Gostkowski 29 Yd, 6:48. Drive: 11 plays, 49 yards in 4:55.
TDSantonio Holmes, 19 Yd pass from Ben Roethlisberger (Jeff Reed kick is good), 1:55. Drive: 9 plays, 63 yards in 4:53.
FGJeff Reed 25 Yd, 5:39. Drive: 14 plays, 79 yards in 6:53.
TDHines Ward, 11 Yd pass from Ben Roethlisberger (Jeff Reed kick is good), 5:04. Drive: 2 plays, 8 yards in 0:35.
FGJeff Reed 20 Yd, 2:50. Drive: 5 plays, 25 yards in 2:01.
FGJeff Reed 45 Yd, 5:43. Drive: 6 plays, 39 yards in 3:35.
TDGary Russell, 1 Yd run (Jeff Reed kick is good), 2:44. Drive: 2 plays, 1 yards in 0:43.
Players of the Game

S. Morris
Rush 10
Yds 45
Avg 4.5
TD 1

B. Roethlisberger
Att 33
Comp 17
Yds 179
TD 2
B. Roethlisberger17/3317921
W. Parker1687031
M. Moore1267020
B. Roethlisberger3605
G. Russell3111
H. Miller460021
N. Washington341016
H. Ward537111
S. Holmes228119
M. Moore2905
M. Spaeth1404
New England
M. Cassel19/3916902
K. Faulk673041
S. Morris1045114
B. Green-Ellis2302
M. Cassel2101
K. Faulk748017
R. Moss445027
W. Welker430012
B. Green-Ellis120020
S. Morris112012
B. Watson112012
J. Gaffney1202
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
JAC 17 Final
HOU 30
CHI 14 Final
MIN 34
KC 20 Final
OAK 13
ATL 22 Final
SD 16
NYG 23 Final
NO 20 Final
TB 23
MIA 16 Final
STL 12
DEN 34 Final
NYJ 17
CAR 35 Final
GB 31
IND 10 Final
BAL 34 Final
SF 10 Final
ARI 20 Final
PHI 48
SEA 9 Final
DAL 34
TEN 47 Final
DET 10