Tom Brady came into Sunday's game with an 11-3 career record against the Steelers, including a 3-0 mark in the playoffs and five straight wins dating back to 2013. Ben Roethlisberger, meanwhile, was 3-8 overall and 0-2 in the postseason against the Patriots, and that includes a 2008 victory that saw backup Matt Cassel start for the injured Brady.

Put another way: A lot of folks, us included, fully expected the Patriots to leave Heinz Field with a win. There was really no reason to feel otherwise; Pittsburgh was on a three-game losing streak -- including a demoralizing Week 14 loss to the Raiders (not-so-fun fact: Big Ben is 0-4 against the Raiders in Oakland), and while the Pats were victimized by the Miami Miracle last week, everyone assumed they'd bounce back in Pittsburgh. You know, because that's what they always do.

Except it didn't happen.

Brady looked like a 41-year-old quarterback playing a game with guys almost half his age. He finished 25 of 36 for 279 yards, including a you-knew-that-was-coming 63-yard first-quarter touchdown pass to Chris Hogan. But Brady also did something he almost never does: Threw an inexplicable fourth-quarter red-zone interception that ranks as one of the worst passes in his 19 NFL seasons.

For some perspective, from 2007-2016, Brady went six games without a pick against the Steelers, and in those games tossed 19 touchdowns and registered a passer rating no lower than 101.8.

So what happened Sunday afternoon with New England trailing 14-10?

"I was just trying to flick it out of bounds," he told reporters, via NBC Sports Boston. "I didn't want to take the sack. Shouldn't happen."

Steelers cornerback Joe Haden, who came down with the ball, has a slightly more upbeat retelling of events.

"I was waiting for it for awhile," he said, via the Boston Globe. "We've been trying to get after it. We've been dropping ones that have been hitting us in the face."

But Brady, who prides himself on perfect mechanics, looked more like Eli Manning against the Steelers. On 37 pass plays, he was sacked just once and hit six times more, but the chuck-and-duck was a regular occurrence. Put another way: The specter of a pass rush hurried Brady into off-balance or back-footed throws. The results were uncharacteristic; he was inaccurate when it mattered most; first on the interception and then on the final drive when he misfired into the end zone on one attempt after the next as the Pats tried to tie the score.

"It's not any one thing," Brady said of the team's back-to-back losses. "It's a lot of things collectively."

The bad news is that the Patriots are now the No. 3 seed in the AFC, behind the Chiefs and Texans. And New England has never won a Super Bowl under Bill Belichick without first having a first-round bye. The good news is that they finish the season against the Bills and Jets, and unless the Texans win out (at Philly, Jacksonville), there's a good chance the Patriots have wild-card weekend off and host at least one playoff game in Gillette Stadium.

(Stream Sunday's Bills-Patriots game on fuboTV and CBS All Access.)