Halloween just isn’t a good time for the Pats to visit Heinz Field.
Just like 7 years ago when the Pats 21-game winning streak was snapped on a Halloween visit to Heinz Field, Sunday was another tough day, as the Steelers topped New England 25-17.
The loss puts the Pats at 5-2 on the season, while the Steelers remain atop the AFC North with a mark of 6-2 as they have won four in a row.
Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense chewed up the clock and the New England defense, as the two-time Super Bowl winning QB threw for 365 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
The Steelers solved Tom Brady for only the second time in eight tries, denying Brady and Bill Belichick the NFL record for most wins by a quarterback-head coach combo in the Super Bowl era.
Roethlisberger was 36-of-50, but the one pick he threw turned into a TD for the Pats that cut the Steelers second quarter lead to 10-7. Shaun Suisham kicked three field goals in the win, including one each in the last two quarters.
The Steelers held the ball for almost twice as long as the Patriots and denied Brady a final chance to win the game, sacking him to force a fumble that ended up as a safety.
“We played good, fundamental football today, and that’s the recipe,” said Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin. “We were where we were supposed to be, doing what we were supposed to do, for the most part in all three phases.”
Pittsburgh has won four in a row and remains at home to play AFC North rival Baltimore next week.
Brady was 24-of-35 for 198 yards and two touchdowns for the Patriots (5-2), who were coming off a bye and had a three-game winning streak snapped. Brady and Belichick remained on 116 wins, tied with Hall of Famers Dan Marino and Don Shula of the Miami Dolphins.
“They out-played us and out-coached us,” said Belichick. “Hopefully we can get back to work and play better. It just wasn’t a good job by us in any phase.”
The Steelers set the tone with two long drives to start the game, taking an early 10-0 lead. They held the ball for more than 13 minutes in the first quarter and for more than 39 minutes in the game.
Despite missing wide receiver Hines Ward due to an ankle injury — linebacker James Farrior was out, too — half of Pittsburgh’s 10 drives went for at least 10 plays and five minutes.
Roethlisberger was 23-of-32 for 231 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the first half alone. Other than one scramble by the QB, the Steelers ran just eight times in the half.
Big Ben was 7-of-9 on the game’s opening drive, completing four passes of at least 10 yards and connecting with Mewelde Moore on a five-yard strike for a 7-0 lead.
The 11-play possession was followed by a three-and-out by the Patriots, then a 16-play drive by Pittsburgh that bled into the second quarter and ended in Suisham’s 33-yard field goal.
New England punted on its first two possessions, but got good field position when Gary Guyton intercepted Roethlisberger and returned it 17 yards to the Pittsburgh 8.
Brady’s two-yard pass to Deion Branch in the end zone got the Patriots within 10-7.
The Steelers replied with a 10-play drive and Antonio Brown scored his first NFL touchdown on a seven-yard catch, turning for Roethlisberger’s pass near the goal line and surging across it for a 17-7 lead.
Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 46-yard field goal to draw New England within 17-10 at halftime.
“There were too many three-and-outs. It was a poor level of execution all the way around. We have to look in the mirror and figure out what we need to do better,” said Brady. “We never really played the game on our terms.”
Suisham nailed a 21-yard field goal in the third quarter, while Gostkowski booted one off the upright for a 42-yard miss. The Steelers responded with an 11-play drive and Suisham’s 23-yarder made it 23-10 early in the fourth.
After Suisham missed a 43-yard field goal later in the final quarter, Aaron Hernandez’s one-yard catch in the back of the end zone drew the Patriots within 23-17 with 2:35 remaining, capping a 67-yard drive in 10 plays.
Before the touchdown, New England was twice stopped at the one-yard line on catches by Rob Gronkowski and Kevin Faulk. Gronkowski was tackled right at the line, but the Patriots didn’t challenge the call and the next play ate up a lot of time.
Isaac Redman picked up a first down for the Steelers, who punted anyway after failing to get another one. But the Patriots were left with just 19 seconds, and Brady’s fumble on the first play was knocked more than 20 yards and out of the back of the end zone for a safety.