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’s Ryan Clark blowing up BenJarvus Green-Ellis on what was quite a collision on New England’s first offensive play from scrimmage. Green-Ellis picked up two on the play, but it was quite an impact. On the next play Brady threw incomplete to Wes Welker, and then hit a completion to Rob Gronkowski, but he couldn’t pick up the first down. 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. 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. Unfortunately despite getting down to a 3rd and 15, Roethlisberger connected with Sanders for a first down. 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. 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. 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. Hernandez completely blew up Ryan Mundy, which allowed Hernandez to get the first down. They 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. 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. 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. 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. They also have a firm hold on time of possession, holding the ball for over 30-minutes. 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.