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The Patriots pulled their best Plaxico Burress impression by shooting themselves in the foot in a 33-10 loss to the Steelers in a cold rain at Foxboro. New England had five turnovers, including three lost fumbles in a disastrous third quarter.
Matthew Slater fumbled a kickoff deep in Patriots territory, which led to a touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Hines Ward. Matt Cassel lost a fumble on the next Patriots play from scrimmage thanks to horrible blocking from Matt Light (which led to a James Harrison sack and forced fumble). Cassel lost another fumble later in the quarter on a very similar play with the same outcome. Both fumbles only resulted in three points, but the damage was done.
Matt Cassel threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter as the Pats were totally dominated in the second half. Pittsburgh held New England to zero points and 81 yards in the half while scoring 23 points. To Cassel’s credit, most of his turnovers weren’t his fault (except for his final interception).
In the game’s turning point with the score tied 10-10, the Patriots were driving at the end of the second half. Matt Cassel found Randy Moss in the back of the endzone for a sure touchdown, but Moss juggled and dropped the wet ball. On the next play, Cassel’s pass went through the hands of a Steelers defender and into and out of Moss’s hands for another touchdown (though that catch was harder). Stephen Gostkowski then missed a 27-yard field goal and the Patriots had nothing to show for it.
The weather definitely played a role in the outcome of the game. When the weather is really bad, the game usually tilts in the favor of the best and most opportunistic defense. As well as the Patriots played defensively (and they played decently well), the Steelers defense was dominant in all facets of the game.
It seemed the weather definitely affected Randy Moss, as he dropped three balls (two touchdowns and a potential huge gain across the middle of the field). He played in the Metrodome in Minnesota for much of his career, so I imagine that may have to do with it. He hasn’t played many games in poor weather conditions, but that shouldn’t be an excuse considering he’s a hall-of-fame wide receiver.
The loss coupled with wins by Miami, Indianapolis, and Baltimore really hurts the Pats’ playoff hopes. The Jets lost to the Broncos, which means Miami and New England are one game behind the 8-4 Jets at 7-5. The Colts and Ravens both are now 8-4.
SoB’s Jeff will have more coverage in his “Verdict.”