Halftime analysis: Steelers 17, Patriots 10
|10.30.11 at 5:42 pm ET|
After two quarters, the Steelers hold a 17-10 lead on the Patriots. Here are a few quick notes:
The Pittsburgh offense has dominated much of the first half as Ben Roethlisberger went 23-for-32 for 231 yards and two touchdowns. The Steelers put together three scoring drive of 10-plus plays each. Pittsburgh went 11 plays on their first series, with four catches for tight end Heath Miller. It was the first time all season that a tight end consistent got the better of New England — opposing tight ends came into the game averaging three catches for 39 yards. The Patriots, who were playing lots of zone in the secondary, appeared to suffer some breakdowns in coverage.
It was more of the same on the second drive, as the Steelers marched down the field at the end of the first quarter on a 16-play drive, but settled for a 33-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter. Frankly, it looked an awful lot like the way New England had attacked the Steelers in the past — spread it out, lots of short passing, with only an occasional run mixed in to keep the opponent honest.
The Steelers launched another soul-killing drive on their final sequence of the first half, with the touchdown coming on a seven-yard pass play from Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown. On that play (the culmination of a 10-play sequece), it appeared the corner Antwaun Molden dropped into a zone that was being covered by safety James Ihedigbo, freeing up space for Brown to opeate at the goal line to make it 17-7.
The Patriots offense went three-and-out on its first series, and didn’t get the ball back until the start of the second quarter. New England was able to get into Pittsburgh territory on its second drive, but a pair of nice back-to-back pressures by Lamarr Woodley (the second of which ended in a sack) forced the Patriots to punt the ball away again. The Patriots turned things around shortly after that as Roethlisberger delivered a pass right to Patriots linebacker Gary Guyton. New England cashed that in two plays later when Brady found Deion Branch on an out-and-up from two yards out to make it 10-7 with 8:24 left in the first half.
On its final drive of the half, the Patriots put together their first real consistent offensive sequence of the first half when Brady (who went 8-for-13 for 76 yards) engineered a 10-play, 52-yard sequence that took 2:12 and ended with a 46-yard field goal with 39 seconds left in the second quarter to make it 17-10 just before the end of the half.