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Patriots rally behind Gronkowski, edge Steelers 27-24

PITTSBURGH (AP) The New England Patriots have built a dynasty on second chances. Miss an opportunity to bury the Super Bowl champions and they will find a way to find a way, usually behind a mix of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, and defensive playmaking at just the right time.

It's a lesson the Pittsburgh Steelers have learned through the years, one they were determined to finally learn from this time around. Instead, more of the same.

Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted in the end zone with 5 seconds remaining, securing New England's 27-24 comeback victory Sunday built on more Brady and Gronkowski magic.

Another AFC East title, a record ninth in a row.

Another shot at home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

This one came with an assist from the NFL rule book that will add ''surviving the ground'' to the league's ever-expanding and ever-perplexing lexicon.

Plus, the risky decision by the Steelers quarterback not to spike the ball and set up a tying field goal, which could reverberate well into January.

''It was a tight game,'' said Brady, who fed Gronkowski repeatedly to set up Dion Lewis' go-ahead 8-yard touchdown with 56 seconds remaining. ''We just made one more play than they did.''

Same as it ever was.

The Patriots (11-3) can make sure they don't have to leave Foxborough in January if they finish up the regular season with wins over Buffalo and the New York Jets. Brady finished with 298 yards passing with two touchdowns and an interception. Gronkowski, fresh off a one-game suspension, finished with nine receptions for 168 yards, including three on the winning drive.

That drive, by the way, started with Pittsburgh safety Sean Davis letting a tipped pass slip off his fingertips. Instead of a game-sealing interception, the Steelers gave New England another shot. Brady responded by finding Gronkowski for gains of 26, 26 and 17 yards.

''I think they were trying to challenge us and he made a lot of good plays,'' Brady said. ''Other guys make a lot of good plays, too, but when he's open, he gets it.''

It briefly looked like it wouldn't be enough.

The Steelers (11-3) played most of the game without star wide receiver Antonio Brown, who left in the second quarter with a left calf injury. Still, the AFC North champions gamely hung in and appeared to take the lead when Roethlisberger connected with tight end Jesse James for a 10-yard touchdown with 28 seconds to go.

The play was overturned on review, with official Tony Corrente explaining that because the ball shifted as James twisted his way into the end zone , it did not ''survive the ground'' and therefore wasn't a catch.

''He lost complete control of the football,'' Corrente told a pool reporter.

That decision that left James stunned.

''I guess I don't know a lot of things about football,'' James said. ''I can't call it, obviously. They think they made the right call. I'm sure we'll see it over the next couple days.''

Probably far longer than that.

Roethlisberger hit Darrius Heyward-Bey for a short gain on the next snap, but Heyward-Bey was tackled in bounds. With the clock running and no timeouts, Roethlisberger hurried to the line. Rather than spike it to set up a short kick, Roethlisberger tried to win it.

Instead, he lost it.

His pass to Eli Rogers was batted into the air, and New England safety Duron Harmon came down with it. The Patriots had their fifth straight victory in a series that would feel more like a rivalry if the outcome wasn't always the same.

''We're not going to look back and second-guess anything or anybody,'' Roethlisberger said. ''We lost a game and I threw a pick in the end zone at the end of the game to lose it.''

Roethlisberger completed 22 of 30 passes for 281 yards with two touchdowns and the pick. Le'Veon Bell ran for 117 yards and added another 48 receiving. Still, it did little to take away the sting of a near miss.

''I'm not into moral victories right now,'' Roethlisberger said. ''We just lost a game. It doesn't sit well. But the season is not over.''

SHAZIER STOPS BY

Pittsburgh received an early emotional jolt when cameras cut to injured linebacker Ryan Shazier sitting in a private box less than two weeks removed from spinal stabilization surgery. The crowd at rainy Heinz Field roared as Shazier, who appeared to be seated, waved a Terrible Towe l. The 25-year-old is recovering from spinal stabilization surgery on Dec. 6, two days after leaving a Monday night victory over Cincinnati on a stretcher following a routine hit on Bengals wide receiver Josh Malone.

''We had no idea he was going to be here,'' Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree said. ''We were excited. It was good to see him smiling and cheering.''

INJURIES

The Patriots lost running back Rex Burkhead with a knee injury in the first half. Burkhead did not return. Pittsburgh rookie running back James Conner exited with a sprained knee in the fourth quarter.

UP NEXT

New England: Host the Bills on Christmas Eve. The Patriots handled the Bills 23-3 earlier this month in Buffalo.

Pittsburgh: Visits Houston on Christmas Day.

---

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Copyright 2017 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

Key Players
R. Gronkowski 87 TE
168 ReYds, 9 RECs
18
FPTS
B. Roethlisberger 7 QB
281 PaYds, 2 PaTDs, INT, 10 RuYds
22
FPTS
Scoring Summary
4th Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Two Point Conversion 0:56
(Pass formation) TWO-POINT CONVERSION ATTEMPT. T.Brady pass to R.Gronkowski is complete. ATTEMPT SUCCEEDS.
plays
yds
pos
27
24
Touchdown 0:56
D.Lewis up the middle for 8 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
5
plays
77
yds
1:10
pos
25
24
Field Goal 3:56
S.Gostkowski 46 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-J.Cardona, Holder-R.Allen.
9
plays
44
yds
3:42
pos
19
24
3rd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 1:33
C.Boswell extra point is GOOD, Center-K.Canaday, Holder-J.Berry.
plays
yds
pos
16
24
Touchdown 1:33
L.Bell left tackle for 3 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
5
plays
22
yds
2:58
pos
16
23
Missed Point After Touchdown 8:50
S.Gostkowski extra point is No Good, Wide Left, Center-J.Cardona, Holder-R.Allen.
plays
yds
pos
16
17
Touchdown 8:50
T.Brady pass short right to B.Cooks for 4 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
12
plays
75
yds
6:10
pos
16
17
2nd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 0:25
C.Boswell extra point is GOOD, Center-K.Canaday, Holder-J.Berry.
plays
yds
pos
10
17
Touchdown 0:25
B.Roethlisberger pass short left to M.Bryant for 4 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
15
plays
78
yds
8:39
pos
10
16
Field Goal 9:04
S.Gostkowski 32 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-J.Cardona, Holder-R.Allen.
9
plays
61
yds
3:11
pos
10
10
Field Goal 12:15
C.Boswell 51 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-K.Canaday, Holder-J.Berry.
9
plays
43
yds
4:57
pos
7
10
1st Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 5:32
C.Boswell extra point is GOOD, Center-K.Canaday, Holder-J.Berry.
plays
yds
pos
7
7
Touchdown 5:32
B.Roethlisberger pass short middle to E.Rogers for 18 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
8
plays
69
yds
3:28
pos
7
6
Point After TD 9:00
S.Gostkowski extra point is GOOD, Center-J.Cardona, Holder-R.Allen.
plays
yds
pos
7
0
Touchdown 9:00
R.Burkhead right guard for 1 yard, TOUCHDOWN.
6
plays
77
yds
3:11
pos
6
0
Team Stats
Time of Pos 24:53 35:07
1st Downs 21 21
Rushing 5 7
Passing 14 14
Penalty 2 0
3rd Down Conv 3-9 10-16
4th Down Conv 1-1 0-0
Total Net Yards 360 413
Total Plays 56 63
Avg Gain 6.4 6.6
Net Yards Rushing 77 143
Rush Attempts 19 31
Avg Rush Yards 4.1 4.6
Net Yards Passing 283 270
Comp. - Att. 22-35 22-30
Yards Per Pass 8.1 9.0
Sacked - Yards Lost 2-15 2-11
Penalties - Yards 2-4 6-63
Touchdowns 3 3
Rushing TDs 2 1
Passing TDs 1 2
Other 0 0
Turnovers 1 1
Fumbles - Lost 0-0 1-0
Int. Thrown 1 1
Punts - Avg 2-48.0 4-42.8
Return Yards 85 100
Punts - Returns 1-11 1-2
Kickoffs - Returns 4-74 5-85
Int. - Returns 1-0 1-13
Kicking 3/4 4/4
Extra Points 1/2 3/3
Field Goals 2/2 1/1
Red Zone Eff. 3-4 -75% 3-5 -60%
Goal to Go Eff. 3-3 -100% 2-3 -67%
Safeties 0 0
1234T
Patriots 11-3 7361127
Steelers 11-3 7107024
283 PASS YDS 270
77 RUSH YDS 143
360 TOTAL YDS 413
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT FPTS
T. Brady 12 QB
17
FPTS
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
62.9% 298 1 1 87.6
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
67.1% 4163 28 7 104.0
T. Brady 22/35 298 1 1 17
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG FPTS
D. Lewis 33 RB
13
FPTS
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
13 67 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
130 674 4
D. Lewis 13 67 1 12 13
R. Burkhead 34 RB
7
FPTS
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
4 12 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
64 264 5
R. Burkhead 4 12 1 6 7
T. Brady 12 QB
17
FPTS
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
2 -2 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
23 22 0
T. Brady 2 -2 0 -1 17
Receiving TAR REC YDS TD LG FPTS
R. Gronkowski 87 TE
18
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
13 9 168 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 64 1017 7
R. Gronkowski 13 9 168 0 31 18
B. Cooks 14 WR
12
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
7 4 60 1
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 58 984 6
B. Cooks 7 4 60 1 43 12
D. Amendola 80 WR
2
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
4 2 23 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 54 588 2
D. Amendola 4 2 23 0 12 2
D. Lewis 33 RB
13
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
2 1 13 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 21 150 1
D. Lewis 2 1 13 0 13 13
D. Allen 83 TE
1
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
1 1 10 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 8 60 1
D. Allen 1 1 10 0 10 1
J. White 28 RB
0
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
3 2 8 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 56 429 3
J. White 3 2 8 0 4 0
K. Britt 85 WR
0
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
1 1 7 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 19 240 2
K. Britt 1 1 7 0 7 0
R. Burkhead 34 RB
7
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
1 1 5 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 30 254 3
R. Burkhead 1 1 5 0 5 7
P. Dorsett 13 WR
0
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
1 1 4 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 8 144 0
P. Dorsett 1 1 4 0 4 0
J. Develin 46 FB
0
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
1 0 0 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 6 38 0
J. Develin 1 0 0 0 0 0
J. Hollister 47 TE
0
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
1 0 0 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 3 37 0
J. Hollister 1 0 0 0 0 0
Defense T-A SACK INT FF
S. Gilmore 24 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
8-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
40-2 2 0.0
S. Gilmore 8-0 0.0 0 0
E. Rowe 25 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
13-1 0 0.0
E. Rowe 5-0 0.0 0 0
D. Harris 45 OLB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
15-7 0 1.0
D. Harris 4-0 0.0 0 0
P. Chung 23 SS
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
64-11 1 0.0
P. Chung 4-0 0.0 0 0
L. Guy 93 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-3 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
30-22 0 1.0
L. Guy 4-3 1.0 0 0
R. Jean Francois 94 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-3 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
6-4 0 0.0
R. Jean Francois 3-3 0.0 0 0
M. Brown 90 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-4 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
26-15 0 1.0
M. Brown 3-4 0.0 0 0
D. McCourty 32 FS
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
68-15 1 1.0
D. McCourty 3-2 0.0 0 0
M. Butler 21 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
50-5 2 0.0
M. Butler 3-0 0.0 0 0
E. Roberts 52 OLB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-4 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
42-17 0 2.0
E. Roberts 2-4 0.0 0 0
T. Flowers 98 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-3 0 0.5
SEASON T-A INT SACK
35-16 0 6.5
T. Flowers 2-3 0.5 0 0
D. Harmon 30 SS
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 1 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
15-6 4 0.0
D. Harmon 1-0 0.0 1 0
E. Lee 55 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-3 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
9-5 1 2.0
E. Lee 1-3 0.0 0 0
J. Richards 37 SS
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
20-3 0 0.0
J. Richards 1-0 0.0 0 0
M. Flowers 59 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
16-2 0 0.0
M. Flowers 1-0 0.0 0 0
D. Wise 91 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-2 0 0.5
SEASON T-A INT SACK
14-9 0 3.5
D. Wise 0-2 0.5 0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
S. Gostkowski 3 K
7
FPTS
IN-GAME FG XP
2/2 1/2
SEASON FG XP
33/36 38/40
S. Gostkowski 2/2 46 1/2 7
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
R. Allen 6 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
2 48.0 1
SEASON NO AVG IN20
49 43.5 19
R. Allen 2 48.0 1 54
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
D. Lewis 33 RB
13
FPTS
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
4 18.5 27 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
21 25.1 103 1
D. Lewis 4 18.5 27 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
D. Amendola 80 WR
2
FPTS
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 11.0 11 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
21 9.0 40 0
D. Amendola 1 11.0 11 0
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT FPTS
B. Roethlisberger 7 QB
22
FPTS
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
73.3% 281 2 1 110.6
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
63.9% 4025 26 14 92.2
B. Roethlisberger 22/30 281 2 1 22
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG FPTS
L. Bell 26 RB
21
FPTS
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
24 117 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
307 1222 8
L. Bell 24 117 1 18 21
J. Conner 30 RB
1
FPTS
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
3 13 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
32 144 0
J. Conner 3 13 0 10 1
B. Roethlisberger 7 QB
22
FPTS
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
3 10 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
27 48 0
B. Roethlisberger 3 10 0 5 22
F. Toussaint 33 RB
0
FPTS
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
1 3 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
1 3 0
F. Toussaint 1 3 0 3 0
Receiving TAR REC YDS TD LG FPTS
J. Smith-Schuster 19 WR
11
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
6 6 114 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 43 699 5
J. Smith-Schuster 6 6 114 0 69 11
M. Bryant 10 WR
11
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
6 4 59 1
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 41 478 3
M. Bryant 6 4 59 1 39 11
L. Bell 26 RB
21
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
6 5 48 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 80 627 2
L. Bell 6 5 48 0 17 21
A. Brown 84 WR
2
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
3 2 24 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 101 1533 9
A. Brown 3 2 24 0 19 2
E. Rogers 17 WR
7
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
2 1 18 1
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 16 142 1
E. Rogers 2 1 18 1 18 7
X. Grimble 85 TE
0
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
1 1 8 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 4 30 1
X. Grimble 1 1 8 0 8 0
J. James 81 TE
0
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
5 2 7 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 41 363 3
J. James 5 2 7 0 6 0
D. Heyward-Bey 88 WR
0
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
1 1 3 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 2 47 0
D. Heyward-Bey 1 1 3 0 3 0
Defense T-A SACK INT FF
S. Davis 28 SS
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
7-3 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
66-19 2 0.0
S. Davis 7-3 0.0 0 0
A. Burns 25 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
44-6 0 0.0
A. Burns 5-2 0.0 0 0
M. Hilton 31 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
38-14 2 1.0
M. Hilton 4-0 0.0 0 0
S. Spence 51 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-2 0 0.0
S. Spence 3-1 0.0 0 0
M. Mitchell 23 FS
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
32-16 0 0.0
M. Mitchell 3-2 0.0 0 0
V. Williams 98 ILB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 1 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
60-17 1 7.0
V. Williams 3-0 0.0 1 0
T. Alualu 94 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
18-11 0 2.0
T. Alualu 2-0 0.0 0 0
B. Dupree 48 OLB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
26-8 0 6.0
B. Dupree 2-0 1.0 0 0
C. Sutton 34 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-1 0 0.0
C. Sutton 2-1 0.0 0 0
T. Watt 90 OLB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
34-10 1 6.0
T. Watt 2-0 0.0 0 0
J. Hargrave 79 NT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
20-10 0 2.0
J. Hargrave 1-0 0.0 0 0
C. Heyward 97 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
27-14 0 10.0
C. Heyward 1-0 1.0 0 0
W. Gay 22 FS
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
14-2 1 0.0
W. Gay 1-0 0.0 0 0
L. Walton 96 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
8-3 0 2.0
L. Walton 1-0 0.0 0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
C. Boswell 9 K
6
FPTS
IN-GAME FG XP
1/1 3/3
SEASON FG XP
33/36 29/31
C. Boswell 1/1 51 3/3 6
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
J. Berry 4 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
4 42.8 1
SEASON NO AVG IN20
57 43.4 23
J. Berry 4 42.8 1 60
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
F. Toussaint 33 RB
0
FPTS
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
3 12.0 15 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
4 14.8 23 0
F. Toussaint 3 12.0 15 0
J. Smith-Schuster 19 WR
11
FPTS
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
2 24.5 27 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
7 16.9 27 0
J. Smith-Schuster 2 24.5 27 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
E. Rogers 17 WR
7
FPTS
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 2.0 2 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
12 4.4 15 0
E. Rogers 1 2.0 2 0
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
12:11 NE 23 3:11 6 77 TD
5:32 NE 24 3:20 5 12 Punt
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
12:15 NE 25 3:11 9 61 FG
0:25 NE 27 0:25 1 -1 Half
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
15:00 NE 25 6:10 12 75 TD
6:39 NE 11 2:08 5 22 INT
1:33 NE 25 1:31 5 18 Punt
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
7:38 NE 28 3:42 9 44 FG
2:06 NE 23 1:10 5 77 TD
0:05 NE 20 0:05 1 -1 Game
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
15:00 PIT 16 2:49 4 19 Punt
9:00 PIT 31 3:28 8 69 TD
2:12 PIT 24 4:57 9 43 FG
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
9:04 PIT 22 8:39 15 78 TD
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
8:50 PIT 25 2:11 5 33 Punt
4:31 NE 22 2:58 5 22 TD
0:02 PIT 3 7:24 11 31 Punt
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
3:56 PIT 19 1:50 3 9 Punt
0:56 PIT 21 0:51 4 72 INT