The Pittsburgh Steelers lead the New England Patriots by a score of 17-10 at halftime in what may be the defining moment in the race for the top seed in the AFC. In what was a highly entertaining half of football, there were many takeaways to ponder heading into the third quarter.
Third-Down Defense Remains Horrible
- Shockingly (see: Sarcasm), the defense of the New England Patriots continues to struggle making third down stops. The Steelers were 7-9 on third downs, and they successfully converted on 4 third downs en route to completing an 8+ minute touchdown drive to end the half. The defensive coaches, led by Matt Patricia, have their work cut out for them if this Patriots team is to come from behind and steal a win in Pittsburgh.
Brown Injury Stuns Pittsburgh
- Needless to say, Antonio Brown’s injury on a dropped pass in the end zone momentarily deflated both the Steelers team and the sellout crowd at Heinz Field. He suffered a leg injury while being sandwiched by a pair of defenders breaking up a solid pass from Ben Roethlisberger. He remains questionable to return with what Pittsburgh is calling a calf injury.
- Update: Per Adam Shefter, Antonio Brown has been brought to a local hospital for further evaluation.
Time to Feed Gronk
- Gronkowski, fresh off a suspension for his cheap shot vs Buffalo, made a couple of grabs despite being held every trip down the field. Gronk hasn’t been getting those calls as of late. Due to his recent outbursts toward opponents and referees alike, he probably shouldn’t expect any help any time soon.
Lewis Shines for Offense
- Dion Lewis continues to be the star of New England’s backfield. Showing tremendous patience and speed, it’ll benefit this Pats offense to continue feeding Lewis the ball moving forward.
- The unexpected return of Ryan Shazier sent the Heinz Field crowd into a frenzy as the raucous ovation caused Tom Brady to look toward the scoreboard to see what was going on. After a terrifying injury, it’s nice to see him out and about. Here’s hoping for a smooth recovery for Mr. Shazier!
The Patriots need a big win this evening. Many teams around the league are hitting their stride at the right time (What’s up, Jacksonville?). This Pats team can’t afford back to back losses. The next 30 minutes of action may define the remainder New England’s season with home field advantage on the line. How will Brady and Co. respond? I’m not sure, but we’ll find out soon enough.