Patriots use dominant first half to get unlikely victory against Steelers

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The New England Patriots haven’t done much winning this season, but the tank isn’t fully on just yet.

New England took down the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night, 21-18, in western Pennsylvania.

Thursday’s game presented the lowest over/under in an NFL contest since 2005, at 30.5 – the over hit in the first half. The Pats took a quick, commanding 21-3 lead thanks to three passing touchdowns by Bailey Zappe – two to Hunter Henry and one to Ezekiel Elliott. Diontae Johnson scored for the Steelers before the half.

Late in the third quarter, Zappe threw a costly pick on his own side of the field that was returned to New England’s 16-yard line. But rather than kick a field goal on 4th and 2 from the 8, they were short of the line to gain, turning the ball over on downs.

But the Steelers bailed themselves out by blocking a punt after forcing a three-and-out, beginning their next drive at the opposing 26. Six plays later, Mitch Trubisky, in place of the injured Kenny Pickett, snuck one into the end zone, and the two-point conversion was good on a pass to Pat Freiermuth, cutting the deficit to three points with 11:44 to go.

After a few punts, the Steelers got the ball at their own 27 with 2:44 to go and one timeout – but they weren’t able to cross midfield, and turned the ball over on 4th and 2 with just under two minutes to go. They did force one more New England punt, but their attempt at a miracle final play failed, and the game was over.

Hunter Henry celebrates touchdown

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Although bets on the over were sweat-free, the final score shows Vegas actually wasn’t that far off.

Zappe completed 19 of his 28 passes for 240 yards, while JuJu Smith-Schuster led all players with 90 receiving yards on his four catches. Elliott, though, turned back the clock with 140 scrimmage yards – 68 on the ground and 72 through the air on seven receptions.

Bailey Zappe

It was just New England’s third win of the year, yet their reward for it is hosting the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs next week. 

The 7-6 Steelers, now third in the AFC North, will head to Indianapolis to face the Colts next Saturday afternoon.

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