This AFC Championship game was never in doubt for the New England Patriots as they blowout the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-17 on their way to their NFL-record ninth Super Bowl.
New England didn’t take long to set the tone, hitting Julian Edelman, who is now the franchise’s leading postseason receiver, for a 41-yard play that later set up a Gostowski field goal to open up the scoring. The unsung hero, Chris Hogan was the next person to strike as Brady found him wide-open in the back of the end zone to increase their lead to 10-0.
Le’Veon Bell suffered a groin injury early in this game and was not able to play but DeAngelo Williams came in ready to carry a load and ended up getting the team’s first touchdown. Brady and his offense answered with a spectacular flea-flicker play that resulted in another touchdown for Hogan:
Pittsburgh failed to get into the end zone before the half and was forced to settle for a field goal and end the half with a 17-9 score that wasn’t nearly comfortable enough for New England. They forced a three-and-out to start the next half that ultimately led to another Gostowski field goal to make it 20-9. Another defensive stop for New England shifted the momentum fully in their direction as Brady found Hogan for a 39-yard catch to set the Patriots up in the red zone once again. That play was followed by a BEAST MODE run from LeGarrette Blount where he managed to carry seemingly the entire Pittsburgh defense to the 1-yard line:
Things never got better for the Steelers as Rob Ninkovitch recovered an Eli Rodgers fumble on Pittsburgh’s ensuing drive that was then followed by a touchdown pass to Julian Edelman. Roethlisberger then followed that with an interception right to Eric Rowe that New England, of course, took advantage of with a field goal by Gostowski. Pittsburgh’s last drive resulted in a beautiful touchdown pass to Hamilton, but it was far too late to make a comeback attempt and the game finished with a 36-17 score.
Losing Bell was a huge problem for Pittsburgh but the other ‘Killer B’ couldn’t find much either as Antonio Brown finished the game with 7 receptions for 77 yards. Roethlisberger ended up 31 of 47 passing for 314 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception.
Tom Brady had a miraculous game finishing 32 of 42 passing for 384 yards and 3 touchdowns. Edelman was reliable again in this game finishing with 8 receptions for 118 yards and 1 touchdown but it was Chris Hogan who was the unsung hero as he ended up with 9 receptions for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns.
New England now has their toughest test of the year, in the biggest game of the year as they have to somehow find a way to slow down the Atlanta Falcon offense. Their defense will have to be up to the task but always look for Tom Terrific to have a heroic performance as this isn’t his first time in the Super Bowl, looking for this fifth ring this time around.