Patriots 39

(7-2, 3-2 away)

Steelers 26

(6-3, 2-2 home)

Coverage: NBC

8:20 PM ET, November 14, 2010

Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA 

1 2 3 4 T
NE 10 0 13 1639
PIT 0 3 0 2326

Top Performers

Passing: B. Roethlisberger (PIT) - 387 YDS, 3 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: B. Green-Ellis (NE) - 18 CAR, 87 YDS

Receiving: M. Wallace (PIT) - 8 REC, 136 YDS, 2 TD

Patriots-Steelers Preview


Considering how badly the New England Patriots were dominated in their most recent game, it might look as if the Pittsburgh Steelers are getting a visit from Bill Belichick's team at the perfect time.

One look at their recent history following a loss suggests otherwise.

Tom Brady and the Patriots have dropped consecutive games twice in the past eight seasons, a rut they'll be anxious to avoid matching in Sunday night's showdown at Heinz Field between a pair of Super Bowl hopefuls.

New England (6-2) bounced back from its first loss -- 28-14 against the New York Jets in Week 2 -- with five straight wins, a response hardly unusual since Belichick and Brady have been together.

The Patriots will be looking to rebound again Sunday after a performance that left both coach and quarterback searching for answers. New England turned the ball over three times and held the ball for less than 22 minutes in a 34-14 defeat at Cleveland last Sunday that ended its run as the NFL's lone one-loss team.

"We were out of sync all day," Brady said. "As an offense, we didn't do much to advance the ball, and that includes the quarterback. If we play like we played today we are not going to beat anybody."

The Patriots typically have fared just fine after a loss in recent years. They've dropped back-to-back games twice since 2003, and those swift recoveries have had a lot to do with Brady.

In his 21 games following a regular-season loss in that stretch, Brady has completed 66.7 percent of his passes with 42 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a 105.4 passer rating.

He's been good against the Steelers (6-2) regardless of circumstance. Brady is 5-1 as a starter -- including two AFC championship games -- against Pittsburgh with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. He's averaged 385.5 yards in his past two starts in the series, the last of which came in 2007.

"We've been winning for a long time, they've been winning for a long time," Brady said. "You win for reasons. We're extremely well coached, they're extremely well coached. We try to be tough and physical, they're certainly very tough and physical. They play smart, they make big plays."

Brady missed Wednesday's practice with a foot injury, an addition to the right shoulder injury that Belichick has listed under Brady's name in his injury report for years. It's not believed to be serious.

Despite Brady's penchant for helping the Patriots bounce back, the offense hasn't been nearly as explosive since trading receiver Randy Moss to Minnesota. New England averaged 32.8 points with him and converted 55.3 percent of its third downs. Without Moss, it's averaging 22.0 points and converting one in three third-down chances.

While the Steelers have given up the fewest points per game in the league at 15.4 and are easily the league's best team against the run with 58.3 yards allowed per game, the pass defense has left something to be desired after allowing an average of 272.8 yards the past four weeks.

Pittsburgh gave up 20 points in each stop on its three-game road swing and was fortunate to conclude that stretch 2-1. It opened up a 27-7 fourth-quarter lead Monday night against Cincinnati before needing a late defensive stand to escape with a 27-21 victory.

The Steelers were just happy to not see another fourth-quarter lead disappear, as was the case in five of their seven losses in 2009.

"We find ways to win games," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "That's what makes this team special in all phases. When one fails, another picks them up. I'm really proud of the way guys have played, and we proved that we can win close games when it counts. We've got a long way to go, but we know that."

Pittsburgh has as many turnovers as touchdowns (six) the past three weeks, and it enters Sunday's game with a bevy of injury concerns that may make it tough to protect Roethlisberger and open holes for Rashard Mendenhall.

Three starting offensive linemen left Monday's game, and while rookie center Maurkice Pouncey (leg) returned, tackle Max Starks (neck) and guard Chris Kemoeatu (knee) didn't. Starks was placed on injured reserve Wednesday, while Kemoeatu's status for this week is unclear.

Even with those injuries, the Steelers may be able to exploit New England's inability to get off the field. While the Patriots' offense has recently struggled on third down, the defense has been the league's worst in that category -- allowing conversions 48.1 percent of the time -- all season.

Roethlisberger is the NFL's top-rated passer (124.0) on third down, though he has a rating of 53.0 in that situation in five career starts against New England.

The Patriots put placekicker Stephen Gostkowski (thigh) on injured reserve Wednesday and signed Shayne Graham to replace him. In five seasons with the Patriots, Gostkowski has made 84.3 percent of his field goal attempts.


Passing Leaders

T. Brady64.54029339
J. Garoppolo90.09210
B. Roethlisberger67.44635308
R. Golden100.02500

Rushing Leaders

J. Gray894124.65
S. Vereen943904.12
L. Bell28213414.88
L. Blount652664.12

Receiving Leaders

R. Gronkowski82112413.712
J. Edelman9297210.64
A. Brown122157012.912
L. Bell7777410.13

Team Averages & NFL Ranks

Total YardsNE
Yards PassingNE
Yards RushingNE
Yards AllowedNE
Pass Yds AllowedNE
Rush Yds AllowedNE

Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)

New England leads 6-2
Nov 30, 2008NE 10, PIT 33
Dec 9, 2007NE 34, PIT 13
Sep 25, 2005NE 23, @PIT 20
Jan 23, 2005NE 41, @PIT 27
Oct 31, 2004NE 20, @PIT 34
Sep 9, 2002NE 30, PIT 14
Jan 27, 2002NE 24, @PIT 17