After a 27-24 victory in Pittsburgh last night the New England Patriots now control their own destiny. In what can only be called another classic entry to the Steelers/ Patriots rivalry, the ending was terrific. It was not without controversy though and has led to a multitude of fans cry out regarding whether the Patriots won in a “fair” way.
Regardless of fans perspectives, the game is over, and the Patriots are now in the driver’s seat in the AFC. The path is now clear, win out and they get the one seed and home-field advantage in the AFC.
Let’s look at the winners and losers.
What else can be said? The man was flat out dominant. He was the best player on the field and proved once again how un-guardable he truly is. Finishing with nine receptions for 168 yards and a two-point conversion was extremely impressive and he consistently begged the question as to why the Steelers did not double team him more? He was in single coverage throughout the final drive as it seemed as if Brady looked at the defense and simply said, “thanks.”
Butler has had an up and down season all year long but looked like the best player in the Patriots secondary yesterday. The Patriots defense was for the most part torn apart by the Steelers offense in large part to poor play out of practically everybody minus possibly Harmon and Rowe.
Returning from injury, he was seemingly excited to make an impact right away. That he did as well. He finished with 5 tackles and had half a sack. The Patriots are happy to see him back.
Brady’s MVP Campaign: Brady led the Patriots right down the field for a game-winning touchdown but beyond that, he didn’t have a great game by any means. He has looked quite pedestrian over the past several weeks and through yet another interception. Yet regardless his performance didn’t make a significant difference in his MVP campaign. Antonio Brown went out with an injury and won’t be back until the playoffs, Carson Wentz is out for the year as Nick Foles won in his place and the competition is severely lacking for Brady. If he plays at a high level the last two weeks then he should walk away with the MVP award at the ripe age of 40.
Martavis Bryant made him look silly on several occasions as Gilmore looked more and more like he did at the beginning of the season. It is hard to say whether or not this will turn into a trend because he had been playing well as of late but regardless he needs to become more consistent.
The Patriots run defense: Le’Veon Bell is quite possibly the best running back in the league but that does not excuse the Patriots from looking this bad against the run. They are 32nd in the league rushing yards per attempt. In case anybody was wondering, that is not good.
He was injured in this game and may not return until the playoffs. This is unfortunate for the team as well as himself as well considering that he has accounted for multiple goal-line touchdowns over the course of the last 4 weeks. Mike Gillislee may now get another chance.
The Patriots have won the AFC East for the 9th straight year. The last time they lost it was when Matt Cassel was starting for an injured Tom Brady. This bodes the question as to whether the Patriots will ever lose this division.
–Jared Talbot is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter: @JaredTalbot17