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DARRIUS HEYWARD-BEY cannot believe that Jesse James’ touchdown was reversed, in what the officials said was indeed the correct call of not “surviving the catch” in the end zone. (Photos by Courier photographer Brian Cook)

Refs reverse touchdown by Jesse James, then

ill-advised pass intercepted by Patriots spells doomsday for Steelers

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana, philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist.)

The Pittsburgh Steelers lost—no, not lost, but gave away a victory to the New England Patriots, 27-24, Dec. 17 at Heinz Field. Christmas came one day plus one week earlier for the rebels from “Beantown.” Pittsburgh lost when New England intercepted an ill-thought-out and ill-advised pass from Ben Roethlisberger in the end zone, with five seconds left in the game, killing the Steelers’ chance for victory—or at least a tie to go to overtime—once again leaving the Pittsburgh squad lying on the side of the road, like all roadkill victims.

Bad decisions, mad decisions, and sad decisions. There are those of us that at times make all of the aforementioned and prefer to stand up and take the heat as opposed to “dilly, dilly dallying” around attempting to focus our microscope of incompetence on other folks as well as extraneous and fantasy-laced “visions of sugarplums” dancing in our heads. Yeah, Christmas is coming and it’s better to give than receive, right? Wrong…especially when it comes to professional football.

AFTER A WILD FINISH, head coaches Mike Tomlin and Bill Belichick shake hands. Tomlin’s Steelers were this close to pulling out the win, only to see Ben Roethlisberger throw an interception on the game’s second-to-last play. The pass was intended for Eli Rogers. The Patriots won, 27-24, Dec. 17.

I have always been taught that giveaways are a baaaaad thing, or so I thought. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

On Feb. 1, 2015, the New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks, 28–24, in Super Bowl XLIX to earn their fourth Super Bowl title. The victory was sealed when Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was intercepted in the end zone from the 1-yard line. That should’ve been a red flag to Roethlisberger; I don’t care what play that the Steelers coaches were yelling about and trying to send in from the sidelines. Ben had the ability and the independence to attempt the pass only if the Patriots’ defensive alignment permitted such a play. Both Wilson and Roethlisberger, I would suspect, had the autonomy to scrap pre-called plays if the successful execution of those plays were called into question. The Steelers offense or their coaches weren’t confused, and the Patriots defense was certainly not confused. Roethlisberger appeared to be the only one confused. You have to learn from the mistakes of others, boys and girls, so as not to repeat them.

I have viewed the assessments given to the Steelers defense, offense, and special teams, and the defense was given the lowest grade. How in the heck are such blatantly biased assessments even viable? The Patriots offense gained 77 rushing yards on 19 carries. The Steelers offense gained 143 rushing yards on 31 carries; advantage Steelers defense. Patriots QB Tom Brady was 22-of-35 for 298 yards. Big Ben was 22-of-30 for 281 yards; advantage Brady by a measly 17 yards.

The Steelers passed for 17 yards less than the Patriots but outrushed them by 66 yards. Who was the better defense? Certainly not the Patriots’ “D.”

The game was lost for Pittsburgh when Roethlisberger was intercepted in the end zone. People were grumbling about stupid stuff like, “Why wasn’t Le’Veon Bell available in the locker room for a nice toasty post-game chat with us media types?” Well, maybe some things are better left unsaid because there is still a lot of football left.

The Steelers can still be the number 1 seed in the AFC if the Buffalo Bills can travel to Foxborough and beat the Patriots this Sunday, Dec. 24. The Bills (8-6) are fighting for their playoff lives so the Pats will not be on the porch drinking mint juleps. The Steelers still have to take care of business when they meet the Houston Texans (4-10) in Houston on Christmas night.

(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

 

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