Some observations from the third quarter:
Aaron Hernandez made a big block in the third quarter, but New England couldn’t capitalize. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
– It was clear that the Steelers were trying to set the tone to start the third quarter, with Pittsburgh’sÂ Ryan Clark blowing up BenJarvus Green-Ellis on what was quite a collision on New England’s first offensive play from scrimmage. Â Green-Ellis picked up two on the play, but it was quite an impact. Â On the next play Brady threw incomplete to Wes Welker, and then hit a completion toÂ Rob Gronkowski, but he couldn’t pick up the first down. Â That forced a punt by the Patriots, which was Zoltan Mesko’s third of the game.
– The Steelers came out in a no huddle to start the second half, clearly trying to wear down an already tired Patriots defense. Â They caught a break when Emannual Sanders was called for offensive pass interference after setting a pick, which was a 10-yard penalty and put Pittsburgh in a 1st and 20 at their own 47. Â Unfortunately despite getting down to a 3rd and 15, Roethlisberger connected with Sanders for a first down. Â That was a key play, because the drive continued and lead to a 21-yard field goal to extend the Steelers lead to 20-10 with 6:11 to go in the quarter. Â They ran 14-plays for 70 yards on that drive, holding the ball for 7:06.
– Interesting to note that Antwaun Molden was on the bench at the tail end of the Steeler’s first drive of the third quarter, and was replaced by Phillip Adams. Â Adams was seen jawing with Mike Wallace after the Patriots third down stop.
– On New England’s ensuing offensive possession, the Patriots got a 19-yard pickup by Rob Gronkowski, who was sprung thanks to an unbelievable block by Aaron Hernandez. Â Hernandez completely blew up Ryan Mundy, which allowed Hernandez to get the first down. Â TheyÂ then picked up another 15 yard penalty after he was hit out of bounds helmet-to-helmet by Ryan Clark, which was enforced at the Patriots 40-yard line and gave them the ball at Pittsburgh’s 45.
– Matt Light had a false start of his own to put the Patriots in a 1st-and-15, which more or less killed New England’s momentum. Â They picked up 4 yards on a completion to Wes Welker, but then threw incomplete to Aaron Hernandez and then on 3rd and 11 picked up just a yard on a completion to Kevin Faulk. Â Stephen Gostkowski then hit the upright on the 42-yard field goal attempt and the Patriots came away with nothing to show for their effort.
– The Patriots got the Steelers into a 3rd and 12 on their ensuing drive, but couldn’t hold them as Pittsburgh once again converted thanks to a 19 yard completion to Antonio Brown and they’re still driving. Â New England has now allowed three conversions of 3rd and more than 10 yards so far today, after allowing just two through the first six weeks.
– Tight End Heath Miller got off to a fast start for the Steelers, but has yet to register a reception so far here in the second half.
– So far through three quarters, Roethlisberger broke the 300 yard passing mark. Â They also have a firm hold on time of possession, holding the ball for over 30-minutes. Â The Patriots defense has also allowed Pittsburgh’s offense to convert 9-of-12 third downs.
We’ll see what happens in the final quarter.
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