Patriots Exorcise Offensive Demons, Hang on for Road Win vs. Steelers


In a thrilling matchup that showcased the New England Patriots’ resilience and offensive prowess, they secured a hard-fought 21-18 victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This pivotal game not only highlighted the Patriots’ determination but also unveiled some key players’ breakout performances.

Zappe’s Heroic Debut

The standout of the night was backup-turned-starter Bailey Zappe, who orchestrated a stellar first-half performance, reminiscent of Tom Brady’s glory days. Zappe’s 37-yard pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster set the tone, marking the Patriots’ first completion of 30-plus air yards this season. This display of offensive aggression proved crucial in breaking a concerning trend.

Breakout Performances

1. Hunter Henry’s Birthday Bash

Tight end Hunter Henry celebrated his 29th birthday in style, scoring two touchdowns. His exceptional play was a beacon of consistency in a challenging season, making him the first Patriot since 2015 to score a birthday touchdown. This performance was a testament to Henry’s dedication and resilience.

2. Ezekiel Elliott’s Workhorse Effort

Stepping up in the absence of Rhamondre Stevenson, veteran running back Ezekiel Elliott delivered a workhorse performance. He seamlessly blended rushing and pass-catching, showcasing versatility and dedication. Elliott’s contribution was pivotal in securing the much-needed victory.

Steelers’ Downward Spiral

While the Patriots soared, the Steelers faced a disheartening setback. A second consecutive loss to a struggling team threw their postseason aspirations into jeopardy. The defense, previously solid, faltered against the Patriots, conceding 21 points to a team ranked last in points per game.

Offensive Struggles

Backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky, thrust into action, struggled against Bill Belichick’s relentless defense. The Steelers’ offense, previously showing promise, failed to find its rhythm, managing only 264 total yards. The inability to overcome the Patriots’ pressure highlighted a concerning trend for the Steelers.

Tactical Challenges

The Steelers faced challenges beyond the game, with ongoing struggles to get lined up correctly. Penalties and timeout issues underscored a lack of coordination, a troubling trend persisting despite assurances from interim offensive coordinator Eddie Faulkner.

Bright Spots Amidst the Gloom

Elandon Roberts’ Resilience

In the face of defensive challenges, Elandon Roberts emerged as a resilient force. Despite a groin injury and a challenging week of practice, Roberts delivered a crucial third-quarter sack and a game-changing pass breakup. His toughness epitomized the Steelers’ determination in adversity.

Miles Killebrew’s Game-Changing Play

S Miles Killebrew’s perfectly timed punt block injected life into the Steelers’ hopes. This pivotal play, early in the fourth quarter, provided the offense with a short field, resulting in a touchdown that narrowed the gap to a field goal.


In a game that defied expectations, the Patriots showcased their offensive capabilities, breaking free from a season-long struggle to secure a vital win. Conversely, the Steelers find themselves in a precarious position, grappling with defensive lapses and offensive inconsistencies. As both teams look ahead to their next matchups, the repercussions of this game resonate, shaping the narrative of their respective seasons.

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