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Home » New England PatriotsOctober 2005 » Still be kind, and eke out our performance with your mind.

Still be kind, and eke out our performance with your mind.

Week 3: September 25, 2005
Patriots (2-1), 23
Steelers (2-1), 20

Back to Patriots football, Discovery channel, and other forms of potato couchery now that the Red Sox playoff run is over. I watched this game furtively, switching between it and the final Baltimore-Boston standoff in Charm City, a series that the Red Sox swept.

The Patriots eked out a win in the final minute of the game as Steelers head coach Bill Cowher demonstrated inexplicably bad clock management. With the score in favor of New England, 20-13, Ben Roethlisberger marshalled his team for a scoring drive that began on his 49-yard line. At the Patriots’ 27 on 4th and 11, Patriots cornerback Chad Scott was called for defensive pass interference, granting the Steelers a new set of downs from the 4-yard line. Pittsburgh scored a touchdown pass to Hynes Ward on the first play after the penalty, not even attempting a few running plays to run down the clock. The Steelers tied the score 20-20 and gave the ball to Tom Brady with 1:14 left on the clock.

Apparently, Cowher doesn’t recall the last three Super Bowls in which the Patriots played, all of which featured Brady leading his team down the field for last-second victories. It slipped his mind that the New England quarterback has executed 17 game-winning drives to tie or take the lead in 4th quarter or overtime.

The Patriots offense marched down the field from their own 38-yard line to get within Adam Vinatieri’s field goal range. As the seconds dwindled to nothingness and the Patriots without timeouts, the vaunted placekicker calmly setup for a 43-yard field goal to take the lead. It was later discovered that the clock keeper at Heinz Field added 52 seconds early in the 4th quarter, but both sides stated that this discrepancy did not impact the game’s outcome.

I’m predicting that Pittsburgh had the edge on the five metrics I’ve isolated to analyze previous games and the game was lost due to Cowher’s horrendous decision making. Let’s see how the teams performed:

  • When comparing the teams’ first and second half yardage, the Patriots split was 165/241 while the Steelers earned 211/101. Advantage: New England.
  • Neither team scored points off of fumbles or interceptions, but the Steelers did manage to be the recipients of turnovers that stopped New England from scoring. In the 2nd quarter, Kevin Faulk fumbled at the Pittsburgh 8-yard line and Steelers linebacker Larry Foote brought the recovery to his 35-yard line. Antwaan Randle El attempted a lateral to Ward after completing a 49-yard pass, but New England was unable to score on their free possession. Brady was intercepted by Chris Hope in the final seconds of the first half deep in the opposition’s territory, but the Steelers declined to risk moving the ball up the field with only 31 seconds left in the half. Advantage: Steelers.
  • In red zone efficiency, the Patriots were 2 for 5 for 40% while the Steelers were 1 for 3 for 33%. Advantage: New England.
  • New England continued its disturbing trend of high numbers of penalties with 10 for 118 yards. Pittsburgh had a mere 5 penalties for 35 yards. Advantage: Pittsburgh.
  • The Steelers converted 3 of 13 third downs (23%) while the Patriots were 8 of 16 (50%). Advantage: New England.

So I was wrong. I was a bit surprised by the Patriots’ success in these five facets of play, especially since they lost Rodney Harrison with 7:34 left in the 1st quarter and Matt Light with 10:36 remaining in the 2nd quarter. However, the Patriots’ 3 out of 5 edge is the closest this season so far.

I was tempted to wear my Patriots gear in Pittsburgh, but my judgment is better than Cowher’s. Instead I indulged a wry, inward smile at many a Steeler fan’s expense as I walked through black and gold clad masses. My enmity towards the team goes back to when I cheered for Dallas (give me a break, I grew up on Maui) as a child. I did like the Mean Joe Green Coke commercial, however. “Hey kid, catch.” Perhaps Randle El should have yelled this to Hynes on the lateral attempt for some clarification.

Game Leaders
Tom Brady: 31/41, 372 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Ben Roethlisberger: 12/28, 216 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Corey Dillon: 22 carries, 61 yards, 2 TD, 9 yard longest gain
Willie Parker: 17 carries, 55 yards, 0 TD, 11 yard longest gain
David Givens: 9 receptions, 130 yards, 0 TD, 30 yard longest gain
Hynes Ward: 4 receptions, 110 yards, 2 TD, 85 yard longest gain
Guss Scott: 5 tackles, 1 assist
Richard Seymour: 4 tackles, 1 assist, 2 sacks
Willie McGinest:
3 tackles, 1 assist, 1 sack
Rosevelt Colvin:
1 tackle, 1 sack
Ike Taylor: 11 tackles, 4 assists
James Farrior: 9 tackles, 6 assists, 1 sack
Clark Haggans: 7 tackles, 3 assists, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles
Chris Hope: 6 tackles, 4 assists, 1 INT
James Harrison: 2 tackles, 1 sack

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