So close, yet so far: Steelers fall to Patriots

Posted on Dec 18 2017 - 12:26pm by Rachael McKriger
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It was the game that everyone in the NFL had their eyes on.

The Pittsburgh Steelers hosted the New England Patriots at Heinz Field. Fans turned out in numbers, making it hard for Tom Brady and company to hear.

However, the fan noise wasn’t enough to prevent the Patriots from leaving Heinz Field as the victors.

The Patriots took home a 27-24 win back to Foxborough.

Many called it a “sneak peek” into a potential AFC Championship game in January. However, the venue for that game is still to be determined.

“We’re looking forward to playing those guys in the playoffs,” cornerback Artie Burns said.

The Steelers have a chance to gain home-field advantage, but they’re going to need a little bit of help from the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets.

Should the Patriots lose one, or both games, and the Steelers win both games against the Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns, home field advantage would belong to Pittsburgh.

Both teams currently have a record of 11-3.

The Steelers almost secured the victory, but a failed fake-snap backfired and resulted in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throwing an interception to Duron Harmon.

“We played to win. We came up short. We accept responsibility for that,” Mike Tomlin said.

Entering the game, Harmon led the Patriots with three interceptions.

The game — like most with the New England Patriots — had controversy, as well.

On that same drive, one first and goal, Roethlisberger threw to tight end Jesse James. James made it over the end zone line, but the officials ruled it as an incomplete pass, saying James did not have control.

“Obviously, we thought it was in,” James said. “Disappointed in the outcome but that’s what it is. I don’t work in that department, I just play football. We thought it was a catch, that’s just the way they ruled it. I can’t do much about that.

The Steelers, with no time-outs or challenges, could do nothing about the call.

“In order to have a completed pass, a receiver must survive going to the ground,” referee Tony Corrente said. “In this case, he had control of the football but he was going to the ground. As he hit the ground, the ball began to roll and rotate and the ball hit the ground and that’s the end of it at that point.”

Instead, they finished the drive with the Roethlisberger interception.

Roethlisberger finished the game with 22/30 completed passes for 281 yards. Le’Veon Bell led receivers with Antonio Brown being injured in the second quarter. Reports are listing Brown to be out until the post-season starts.

Bell led the receivers with six receptions for 114 yards.

Also, Bell had his first 100+ yard rushing game since Week 7 against the Cincinnati Bengals. The former Michigan State man rushed the ball 24 times for 117 yards.

Bell scored one rushing touchdown.

In the air, Eli Rogers scored an 18-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Martavis Bryant caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger in the second quarter.

Kicker Chris Boswell, who has been busy in the last five games for the Steelers, converted one field goal from 51-yards out. He also converted all three extra point attempts.

As for the Patriots, Brady threw for 298 yards on 22 completed passes.

Brady found Brandin Cooks in the end zone for a 4-yard pass in the third quarter. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point attempt.

On the ground, Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead each found the end zone once.

Lewis led the two with 67 yards on 13 carries. His touchdown was the final score for the Patriots.

“We’ll see them again and the outcome will be different,” Rogers said.

The Steelers will travel down south to face the Houston Texans on Christmas Day at 4:25 p.m. The team will close out regular season action at Heinz Field against the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 31 at 1 p.m.

Photo of Jesse James against the New England Patriots courtesy of Don Wright/Associated Press. The Steelers lost the game, 27-24.

Follow @RachaelMcKriger on Twitter for all Steelers coverage.