Gerry Dulac's Two-Minute Drill: Game 8 vs. Patriots
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Game Ball goes to: QB Ben Roethlisberger
If one of the secrets to beating the Patriots is to match Tom Brady's production, Ben Roethlisberger did that and more, passing for 365 yards, two touchdowns and helping the offense possess the ball for nearly 40 minutes by completing 36 of 50 attempts. And he started early, scoring a TD on the first possession for the fourth game in a row and picking up blitzes and hitting hot reads in Brady-esque style. Roethlisberger set the tempo early, hitting 15 of 20 passes on the first two series for a 10-0 lead. "We came in with the game plan of throwing the football," Roethlisberger said. "I felt like we did a good job of that."
X's AND O's
The Steelers kept the Patriots off balance right away, throwing when they showed a run formation featuring three tight ends and running when they showed a multiple-receiver formation. It worked right away, too: TE Heath Miller caught six passes for 76 yards on the first two series, mainly because the Steelers kept catching LB Brandon Spike in run blitzes. That left the middle of the field open for Miller. "We threw when we went 'big' and we ran when we went 'small,' " offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said.THE COUNTDOWN
A quick look at the top performances from Sunday's game:
1. CLINCHING MOMENT: DE Brett Keisel usually lines up on the right side of the Steelers defense, but on first down from the Patriots 22 with 19 seconds remaining, he lined on the left side and sacked Tom Brady, forcing a fumble that resulted in a safety when Troy Polamalu punched the ball through the end zone. "First time I lined there the whole game," Keisel said. "I saw that nobody was rushing from the left side so I thought I'd go over there and try that side."
2. FAST START: For the fourth game in a row, the Steelers scored a touchdown on their opening drive when RB Mewelde Moore lined wide left and caught a quick 5-yard pass from Roethlisberger, giving the team a 7-0 lead.
3. BEN'S MISTAKE: After back-to-back big plays by LaMarr Woodley forced a punt, Roethlisberger underthrew WR Emmanuel Sanders on third down and was intercepted by LB Gary Guyton, who returned the pick 17 yards to the Steelers 8. The Patriots scored two plays later to make it 10-7.
4. BEN'S REDEMPTION: On the series following the interception, Roethlisberger completed six of seven passes for 68 yards and finished off a 10-play, 76-yard drive with a 7-yard TD to Antonio Brown to make it 17-7.
5. MORE ATONEMENT: After an offensive pass interference penalty against him wiped out a 16-yard catch by Miller, Sanders came back three plays later to catch a 17-yard pass over the middle on third-and-15 to keep alive a field-goal drive that made it 20-10.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
158 That is the difference between the Patriots' offensive yardage against the Dallas Cowboys last week -- 371, at the time, the team's lowest -- and this week against the Steelers (213). The Patriots were averaging an NFL-best 474.5 yards coming into the game.
WHAT WAS HE THINKING?
With two minutes remaining and the Patriots out of timeouts, the Steelers had second-and-9 at the New England 28, leading 23-17. A field goal makes it a two-possession game. But, instead of running the ball, Roethlisberger tried consecutive passes and was sacked each time, pushing the ball back to the New England 47. Even though the clock kept running, the Steelers had to punt for the first time. "We wanted a first down," Arians said. "We wanted to keep doing what we had been doing well."
"It's great when the offense isn't talked about much. It was Tom Brady against the Pittsburgh defense all week and I think the offense took it personally."
-- OLB LaMarr Woodley, who had two sacks, on the performance of the offense, which had 29 first downs and possessed the ball for 39 minutes, 22 seconds
vs. BALTIMORE RAVENS, 8:20 P.M., HEINZ FIELD: The Ravens won the first meeting in the season opener, 35-7, but have lost five of the past six games at Heinz Field, including two in the postseason.
First Published October 31, 2011 12:00 am