Entering Sunday’s matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the rivals squared off with the winner seeking the AFC’s number one seed and home field advantage for the playoffs with three games to go in the season. Tom Brady came into the game seeking to continue his dominance over the Steel City sporting a 7-2 regular season record.
In the first quarter, the Patriots struck first, with Brandin Cooks immediately rebounding from last weeks struggles as he hauled in a 43 yard deep ball from Tom Brady which help setup the games first touchdown. Running back Rex Burkhead would bang it in from the goal line for an early 7-0 lead.
The Steelers dynamic offense wasted no time and quickly responded to tie the game at 7 when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger found Eli Rogers on this 18 yard touchdown strike.
In the second quarter, both teams traded field goals to knot the score at 10, but Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant and Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski provided some highlights leading to the scores.
With the clock winding down on the first half, the Steelers found the end zone for a second time when Roethlisberger found Bryant and the Patriots headed to the locker room trailing, but only by 7 at 17-10.
The Patriots got the ball to open the second half, and in what would be a recurrence all night long, Gronkowski continued to haul in big yardage.
The reception would lead to Brady’s first touchdown pass of the game, but a Stephen Gostkowski extra point was missed, and the Patriots had to settle trailing by one at 17-16.
Like in the first quarter, the Steelers again responded as another member of the “Killer B’s” found the end zone when Le’veon Bell ran the ball in from the three, 24-16 Steelers after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, the Patriots defense began to tighten up for the first time all game despite third down struggles, and Tom Brady drove the Patriots into field goal range for Gostkowski to cut the deficit to five at 24-19.
With two minutes to go in the game, the Patriots were given one more opportunity to retake the lead following a big third down stop. Brady and Gronkowski went to work.
Courtesy of three big receptions for 69 yards, Gronkowski helped setup the go ahead score, an eight yard run by the former Pitt Panther Dion Lewis. 27-24 Patriots.
The clock had just under a minute for Big Ben to try and rally, and his rookie wideout Juju Smith-Schuster provided instant life on an incredible 69 yard catch and run.
The play setup what appeared to be tight end Jesse James game winning touchdown, but the play was reviewed and ruled not a catch by the officals.
Despite the controversy that ensued the Steelers still had time for another play despite no timeouts, but instead of spiking the ball to setup a game tying field goal, Roethlisberger gambled with a pass, and the result was Duron “The Closer” Harmon.
An incredible goal line stand that brought back memories of Super Bowl XLIX, and the Patriots survived and won in Pittsburgh yet again while taking over the number 1 seed in the AFC and another division title.
A 27-24 final in a thriller and just two divisional games at home remain where the Patriots control their destiny for playoff positioning.
(.gifs h/t reddit and u/timnog)