Patriots tackle Steelers; NE advances to another Super Bowl
January 23, 2017
The New England Patriots battled the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night at their home turf in the American Football Conference (AFC) Championship game.
The Patriots were crowned AFC champions with a 36-17 win. The victory sends the Patriots to the Super Bowl for the ninth time in franchise history, which puts them ahead of all teams in the National Football League (NFL). The Steelers, Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos all tie for second with eight Super Bowl appearances. This was the 11th time that Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick had been to the conference championship game and the most by any head coach in NFL history.
The Patriots were the first to get on the scoring board with a 31-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal to make it a 3-0 game to start off the first quarter. At 10:49 Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was sacked at his team’s 22-yard line by Steelers defensive tackle Javon Hargrave. New England wide receiver Julian Edelman gained his 77th career postseason reception making him seventh of all time in NFL history. The Patriots furthered their scoring at 4:36 in the first quarter with Brady throwing a 16-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Chris Hogan and Steven Gostkowski was successful in scoring the extra point. At the end of the first quarter, the score favored the Patriots 10-0.
The Steelers had possession at the beginning of the second quarter and managed to get themselves on the score board. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made a short pass to tight end Jesse James to reach New England’s five-yard line. Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams then ran the football in for the touchdown. Kicker, Chris Boswell unsuccessfully kicked the Steelers extra point and the score stood at 10-6. At 7:54 in the quarter, the Patriots fought back with a 34-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Hogan. This was Hogan’s first career postseason game with 100 yards. With two minutes left in the second quarter, Roethlisberger threw a 19-yard pass to James that was called a touchdown. Eventually after the officials reviewed the play they reversed the call as James did not cross the goal line. At 1:43 Boswell kicked a 23-yard field goal, but it still was not enough as New England headed into halftime with a 17-9 lead.
Gostkowski opened the scoring in the third period with a 47-yard field goal. At 4:01, Brady threw a 39-yard pass to Hogan that marked his 11th career 300-yard postseason game. Minutes later Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount ran one yard for his eighth career postseason rush touchdown. New England did not stop there as Brady passed to Edelman for a 10-yard touchdown making the score 33-9. With this touchdown, Brady tied Joe Montana for most postseason games ever with three touchdowns. Gostkowski missed the Patriots extra point and at the end of the third quarter the score remained 33-9.
Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt said to ESPN.com that: “[Brady]” ripped us apart.”
The fourth quarter started off slow, but at 10:26 Roethlisberger’s pass intended for wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was intercepted by New England cornerback Eric Rowe. The Patriots scored their last points of the night with a 26-yard field goal from Gostkowski. At 3:42 Roethlisberger threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Cobi Hamilton. The game’s final score was 36-7 and the win gave the Patriots their 31st postseason win, which is the fourth most postseason wins a team managed to earn of all time in NFL history. This win also gave Patriots owner, Robert Kraft eight conference championships, the most in NFL history.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s a lot of hard work, it’s only two teams left standing and I’m happy we’re one of them,” said Brady in his postgame press conference on CBS.
During the postgame press conference to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin said that: “[The Patriots] are the champions of the AFC. Rightfully so.”
With a 44-21 win against the Green Bay Packers today, the Atlanta Falcons will face the Patriots in the 51st Super Bowl on Feb. 5 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas at 6:30 p.m.