For the Pittsburgh Steelers, Heinz Field has been a House of Horrors when the New England Patriots come to town. The exception appears to be Halloween, and the Steelers defeated the Pats in Pittsburgh for the first time since October 31, 2004.
Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and company have dealt the Men of Steel a gallery of painful losses in the Steel City. These include two AFC Championships and a pair of stadium scoring records, including last season's 39-26 domination of Pittsburgh on Sunday Night Football.
On Sunday, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers hoped to recharge the contentious phase of a matchup between two teams that have represented the AFC in seven of the last 10 Super Bowls. In this effort, they were successful.
Likewise, the Pittsburgh defense—labelled as "old" by many during their early season struggles—made a statement against a Patriots offense that defines execution in more ways than one. It wasn't until the fourth quarter of the game that the Pats led an actual touchdown drive, due in equal parts to the Pittsburgh defense and their limited time of possession.
The Steelers' running game has struggled, but opportunistic runs only assisted in a pass-oriented effort. Wallace, Miller, and Brown made key catches, but the Patriots also boast a gallery of offensive weapons in Welker, Branch, Hernandez and Gronkowski.
Aside from Gronkowski's 97 receiving yards, those targets were largely shut down.
While many predictions of a Pittsburgh upset focused on Roethlisberger's aerial attack against the Patriots' putrid pass-defense, most prognosticators gave the edge to the Pats for Tom Brady's historical mastery of the opposition. Brady boasted a 6-1 record against the Black and Gold.
With the former prognostication coming true, that record has fallen to 6-2.
Unable to continue their series supremacy, the Patriots fell to the Steelers in a game marked by Pittsburgh's superb passing effort, clock control, and high rate of conversion on third down.
In a contest that truly gives credence to the phrase "to the victors go the spoils," the Steelers now enjoy status as the top seed in the AFC through Week 8 of the 2011 NFL season.
FINAL SCORE: STEELERS 25, PATRIOTS 17