When the Steelers 2008 schedule came out, looking at the last five games was like looking at trying to walk over broken glass. You just knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Well, game one of the final five is in the books, and not a lot of people thought the Steelers would pull off what they did Sunday, a complete 33-10 trouncing of the New England Patriots in Foxborough.
They didn’t make it look as easy as it sounds, as they trailed early 7-0, and were only tied 10-10 at the half. But the second half the team made the proper adjustments, brought the heat against the national media’s new darling – Matt Cassel, and they used the run game to dominate the Pats, outscoring them 23-0 in the final 30 minutes.
The offense made critical plays when it had to, going 8-for-16 on third downs, putting up 333 yards to 267 for the Pats, and turning the ball over just once. The Pats on the other hand, had a tough time against the best defense in the league, as Cassel was harassed all day, and as a whole the team had five second half turnovers.
Ben Roethlisberger threw a pick on the teams first drive, but then settled in, throwing 17-for-33 for 179 yards with two TD’s. Willie Parker and Mewelde Moore combined for a very solid day on the ground, going for 87 and 67 yards, a combined 154 yards on 28 carries (5.5 per carry). Heath Miller led the pass catchers with four catches for 60 yards.
The defense did the job against Cassel, who had thrown for two straight 400+ yard days against the Jets and Dolphins. He was 19-for-39 for 169 yards with two picks and a QB rating of 39.4. To make matters worse for Cassel, he had the ball knocked out of hands twice and both times the Steelers recovered the fumbles.
With the game tied at 10, the Steelers drove 79 yards in 7 minutes and kicked a field goal to make it 13-10. The Pats then lost the ball on the kickoff, and the Steelers struck two plays later, with Roethlisberger hitting Hines Ward for a score to make it 20-10. One play later it was another fumble, one of two for Cassel, and the Steelers kicked another field goal to make it 23-10.
They put the game away with another Reed fourth quarter field goal, then after Lawrence Timmons picked off Cassel and took it back to the Pats one, Gary Russell scored to wrap up the final at 33-10. The Steelers six second half possessions went – field goal, TD, field goal, missed field goal, field goal and TD.
For the Pats, the second half was a nightmare, as they put up 121 yards, but had three fumbles, two interceptions, a punt, and the final possession ended the game. For now, the team will put away any such talk of replacing Tom Brady with Cassel.
For the Steelers, they are now 9-3, and await the Dallas Cowboys at home next Sunday, another big game. With the Jets choking at home to Denver, the Steelers now again own the #2 seed in the AFC.
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