Despite the rain, fog and the lack of Roger Goodell at the American Football Conference (AFC) Championship in Foxborough, Massachusetts, the New England Patriots put on a clinic for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady served his four-game suspension earlier this season, but now will be heading to Houston for his seventh Super Bowl appearance, his second in three years, after an easy 36-17 win over Pittsburgh.
This win signified Head Coach Bill Belichick’s seventh Super Bowl appearance, surpassing former Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula.
I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a bit nervous about this game and it wasn’t because of the Steelers, it was because this was it; if the Pats lost, no Super Bowl LI, and no Lombardi Trophy.
As usual, the Patriots managed to turn my average Sunday into a holiday. Two of the greatest things about the previous six Super Bowl appearances is the record, 4-2, and the fact that the greatest coach/quarterback duo is taking on the Atlanta Falcons.
The Pats took an early 3-0 lead after kicker Stephen Gostkowski made a 31-yard field goal, breaking Adam Vinatieri’s franchise record of 26 postseason FGs, according to ESPN.
While it is always great to get the first points on the board, there was still a lot of work that needed to be done and I was not going to settle down until I saw three touchdowns. Then came a beautiful touchdown pass from Brady to wide receiver Chris Hogan, and extra point from Gostkowski and the Pats quickly had a 10-0 lead.
The next scoring play came from a five-yard rush on the Steelers side and a missed field goal attempt (PAT), tightening up the game 10-6. However, it didn’t take long for the Pats to retaliate when Brady found Hogan once again for a 34-yard pass making it a 17-6 game.
Kicker Chris Boswell made a 23-yard field goal for the Steelers, but they remained trailing 17-9 at halftime.
The third quarter started a bit too close for comfort for me, but my nerves were quickly calmed when the Steelers didn’t score a single point in the third quarter.
The Pats racked up 13 points: 47-yard field goal from Gostkowski, 1-yard rush from LeGarrette Blount and a 10-yard pass from Brady to Julian Edelman, with a missed PAT from Gostkowski. The missed field goal wasn’t my favorite way for the Pats to end the third quarter, but that 13-point boost sure boosted my confidence about a Super Bowl appearance.
The fourth quarter began with another field goal from Gostkowski, racking up a total of 12 points during the game. The Steelers would go on to score one more touchdown and a two-point conversion, but it wasn’t a big enough fourth quarter rally to get Pittsburgh anywhere near a comeback in what would be their last game of the playoffs.
Wide receiver Chris Hogan has been playing a crucial role in the Pats’ post-season success and there is no doubt in my mind that he will shine bright in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5.
Tom Brady and his infantry of Patriots proved to their enemy, Roger Goodell, that nothing can stop New England when there is a trophy in sight. See you in Houston Roger, we’re on to the Super Bowl.
Mary Curtin can be contacted at Mcurtin@kscequinox.com