New England 27, Pittsburgh 16
When: 4:25 PM ET, Sunday, October 23, 2016
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
PITTSBURGH -- LeGarrette Blount walked away from the Pittsburgh Steelers two years ago because he felt they weren't using him enough. On this day, he simply ran away from them.
Blount rushed for two touchdowns and 127 yards against his former team, and the New England Patriots turned to their old reliables -- Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski -- to hold off the Ben Roethlisberger-less Pittsburgh Steelers and win 27-16 Sunday.
"To see him come in and run the ball super hard downhill is just awesome," Gronkowski said of Blount, who carried 24 times. "To see him come ready to play, the way he was rushing, was awesome."
Gronkowski, quiet until then, split the middle of the Pittsburgh defense -- Brady said the Steelers "kind of lost track of him" -- to catch a 36-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter after the Steelers cut what was a 14-0 deficit to 14-13.
The tight end then made a 37-yard catch to set up Blount's 5-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter. Blount earlier ran for a 3-yard touchdown, and Brady threw to running back James White for the team's first touchdown.
"The two big chunks to Gronk (Gronkowski) there, I thought changed the complexion (of the game)," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "He made one-on-one plays that we didn't make enough of on the other side of the ball," Tomlin said.
Same old Patriots.
"They played some nickel defense against Rob and Marty (Martellus Bennett, to try to take them away), but we able to get some good runs going with LG," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "He made some tough yards, made some explosive runs. We needed that, particularly when they cut it to a (one)-point game ... he made some big runs there to settle things down."
Steelers backup quarterback Landry Jones, making only his third NFL start, was more than adequate in replacing Roethlisberger, who is expected to be out three to six weeks with a knee injury.
Jones, going 29 of 47 for 281 yards, overcame a badly thrown first-half interception into the end zone, made by Malcolm Butler, to hit Darrius Heyward-Bey on a 14-yard scoring pass. His throws to Le'Veon Bell out of the backfield and Antonio Brown led to three Chris Boswell field goals.
However, Boswell also missed from 42 yards with New England up 14-7, and again from 54 yards in the fourth quarter after Pittsburgh's 35-year-old long snapper, Greg Warren, recovered a fumbled punt at the Patriots 43-yard line.
"We got to the red zone and turned the ball over, and you can't have that," Bell said. "It's a small margin for error against a team like that."
Blount, cut by the Steelers two years ago after leaving the sidelined prematurely during a game at Tennessee in which Bell was getting all the carries, ran over and by Pittsburgh (4-3) to create enough space for the near-perfect-as-usual Brady to go 19 of 26 for 222 yards and no interceptions.
Brady has eight touchdown passes and no interceptions in three games since returning from his four-game suspension -- and the Patriots (6-1) have won all three.
"But we expect to win," defensive lineman Jabaal Sheard said. "That's why you play football."
As least that's why the Patriots play it.
Gronkowski caught four passes for 93 yards, and Julian Edelman finished with nine receptions for 60 yards. Blount, who had 24 carries, added one catch for 7 yards.
"Our execution, when it was good, we made a lot of plays," Brady said.
Bell ran 21 times for 81 yards and caught 10 passes for 68 yards. Brown amassed 106 yards on seven receptions, but also bruised a thigh as Pittsburgh lost its second in a row going into a bye week.
"This stings because we were right there," Brown said. "We left a couple of plays out there, a couple of opportunities where we could have had things go our way."
Early on, it looked as if it might be another Patriots domination of the Steelers -- New England has won seven of its last nine head-to-head meetings, plus six of eight in Pittsburgh -- as Brady led them 80 yards on their first drive, which ended with his 19-yard scoring pass to White out of the backfield. White kept the drive going with a 13-yard catch on a third-and-9 play.
Blount then finished off another extended drive, an 84-yarder, with his 3-yard touchdown run, making it 14-0 at 10:58 of the second.
Jones finally got the Steelers offense going, finding Brown for 51 yards ahead of his 14-yard touchdown pass to Heyward-Bey.
But, on Pittsburgh's next drive, a potential game-tying 14-yard touchdown pass to Heyward-Bey was called back because of a holding call on substitute right tackle Chris Hubbard, and Boswell missed his 42-yard attempt wide right.
NOTES: Patriots RB Brandon Bolden experienced a tough first half. He dropped a third-down pass that would have extended a drive, then carelessly failed to touch down a Ryan Allen punt at the 6-yard line, with the ball bouncing into the end zone. The extra 14 yards helped the Steelers drive for Boswell's 32-yard field goal. ... Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski missed a point-after attempt for the second time this season. He also has three missed field goals. ... Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger (knee) missed his 17th game to injury since breaking into the NFL in 2004. ... Steelers LB Ryan Shazier (knee) returned after sitting out three games. ... Patriots coach Bill Belichick wasn't seen viewing his balky tablet, a week after saying he wouldn't use the device any longer to review formations. ... Steelers WR Sammie Coates injured a hand in the first quarter but later returned. He wound up with one catch for 4 yards. ... Former Secretary of State John Kerry visited with the Patriots after the game.
Top Game Performances
Team Stats Summary
Pittsburgh will play their next game on the road against Baltimore. The Steelers have a W/L % of .500 after a win and .667 after a loss.
New England will play their next game on the road against Buffalo. The Patriots have a W/L % of .800 after a win and 1.000 after a loss.