By: Ian Logue
As New England gets set to make another trip to Heinz field on Sunday, fans should be hopeful that this year’s battle works out the same way that last year’s contest did.
Tight End Rob Gronkowski caught three touchdowns last year against the Steelers. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
In that game it was all Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, with the two combining for 28 points in a 39-26 win over the Steelers on Sunday night football.
That night the then-rookie tight end caught three touchdown passes, while Brady ended up taking one in from three yards out and spiking the ball hard after the play.
“I don’t run much, and I certainly don’t sneak it from very far out,” said Brady after the game. “Coach made a great call, and I was just able to fall forward. I don’t know, I was pretty excited. I don’t score very often so when I do I make sure. As a 49ers fan I loved Tom Rathman, and every time he scored he spiked it as hard as he could, so I’ve always loved that. I guess at times when I do get in the endzone I like to spike it.”
The leading receiver that night was Wes Welker, who finished with 8 catches for 89 yards in what was his first season back coming off that horrific knee injury he suffered just over 10 months earlier.
The veteran receiver battled with drops that night, but was still glad that his team played well.
“I think us just getting out there and running our routes and understanding that we’ve got to go out there and make plays, especially myself,” said Welker. “It should have been 10 catches, but that’s the way it goes sometimes and probably even more than that. But at the end of the day it’s about us making plays and catching the ball and getting open. It was better, but can be a lot better. We’re moving in the right direction.”
Defensively they had a tough night, giving up 387 yards passing by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, including 136 yards and two touchdowns to Steelers receiver Mike Wallace. However, the key element in that game was the fact they were able to sack him 5 times, which disrupted them just enough to come away with the win.
“Give the credit to the players,” said Belichick after the game on the defense. “There were guys blocking them, but they were able to get past those blocks. Roethlisberger’s a hard guy to tackle. We had our hands on him a lot, couldn’t get him down. He’s tough, but we were able to get a hold of him there and hogtie him down a couple times.”
Another standout that night was Patriots safety Patrick Chung, who made his return to the line-up that evening for the first time since suffering a knee injury a couple of weeks prior to that contest. His impact seemed to be felt by every one of his teammates, and Chung stepped up and played incredibly well.
That night the Patriots safety was everywhere, making tackles including a play where he completely blew up Wallace on Pittsburgh’s third drive. He also made a hit which forced the deflection to James Sanders, who returned it for a touchdown.
In the end they came away with the win, and after a game that included an emotional outburst on the sideline by Brady, he was pleased about how hard his teammates fought through it.
“That was a good game, I’m tired,” said Brady. “That was an emotional win for us and it’s always fun to come in here and play well. We know what kind of team they have, what they’re all about. But I thought we showed what we’re all about too. We fought hard, they fought hard, we made a bunch of plays that we needed to make, everybody made them, and it was good to come out ahead.”
Hopefully they put together another repeat performance on Sunday.