PITTSBURGH (AP) ― The Pittsburgh Steelers found a way to beat Tom Brady: Don’t let him get the ball.
Ben Roethlisberger passed for 365 yards and two touchdowns and the Steelers finally solved their Brady problem with an emphatic 25-17 victory over New England.
Roethlisberger completed 36 of 50 passes and led the Steelers (6-2) on a series of clock-chewing drives, effectively keeping Brady and the NFL’s top-ranked offense off the field. Pittsburgh held the ball for more than 39 minutes and survived a late rally to win its fourth straight following a 2-2 start.
Brady passed for two touchdowns but threw for a season-low 198 yards and couldn’t get into any sort of rhythm while losing to the Steelers for just the second time in his career.
The Patriots (5-2) drew within six when Brady hit Aaron Hernandez for a 1-yard touchdown pass with 2:35 remaining, but a last-gasp drive ended when Brady was sacked and the ball rolled out of the end zone for a safety with 8 seconds to play.
It may be October, but the game had a January feel, and it wasn’t just the chilly conditions.
The defending AFC champions pointed to the matchup as a litmus test after a sluggish ― by the franchise’s lofty standards ― start. Were they the “old, slow” bunch that looked overmatched in losses to Baltimore and Houston or were they simply taking their time getting started.
The answer, it appears, is the latter, even if the Steelers solved Brady using un-Steelerlike methods.
Rather than pound away with running back Rashard Mendenhall, Roethlisberger ― who never met a deep ball he didn’t like to throw ― did his best Brady imitation, moving the chains with a controlled passing attack that took yardage in small bits.
The Steelers didn’t complete a pass over 26 yards. They didn’t have to. Roethlisberger consistently found Antonio Brown (a career-high nine receptions), Heath Miller (a season-high seven grabs) and speedster Mike Wallace (seven catches) on short and intermediate routes.
The West Coast-style approach worked perfectly.
Pittsburgh’s five scoring drives lasted 11, 16, 10, 14 and 11 plays. The Steelers converted 10-of-16 third downs and Shaun Suisham kicked three field goals as Pittsburgh kept Brady on the sidelines for long stretches.
Ravens 30, Cardinals 27
Vikings 24, Panthers 21
Giants 20, Dolphins 17
Titans 27, Colts 10
Texans 24, Jaguars 14
Lions 45, Broncos 10
Bengals 34, Seahawks 12
Bills 23, Redskins 0
49ers 20, Browns 10
Eagles 34, Cowboys 7