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AFC Championship Live Blog: Pats vs. Steelers

Chris Simoneau of Patriots Insider provides updates and opinions from the AFC Championship Game in Foxboro, Ma.

Welcome to tonight's AFC Championship live blog; let's take a look at the inactives for tonight's game:

Patriots Inactives: T LaAdrian Waddle, CB Justin Coleman, QB Jacoby Brissett, CB Cyrus Jones, WR Michael Floyd, RB DJ Foster, S Jordan Richards

Steelers Inactives: WR Demarcus Ayers, QB Zach Mettenberger, CB Al-Hajj Shabazz, LB L.J. Fort, DE Johnny Maxey, T Brian Mihalik, TE Ladarius Green

*The loss of Green is significant for the Steelers; they've had trouble in the red zone and he was one of the few threats they had with size that can work the red zone and make plays with his size. 

FIRST QUARTER

15:00- The Patriots will receive; let's see what their offense can do vs. this Steelers defense. 

14:08- After a 12 yard catch by Bennett, Edelman takes ball down the the Pittsburgh 22. After picking up 9 on 1st and 2nd, the Patriots face 3rd & 1...

13:12- Huge drop by Malcolm Mitchell and the Patriots are forced to go for three, which Gostkowski connected on, although the path of the ball was a bit sketchy. New England with a huge miss their not scoring seven; Mitchell needs to make that play. Brady had all day to throw the ball on that series. Patriots 3, Steelers 0

13:01- Pittsburgh takes over at the Patriots 22 and Bell picks up three on 1st down.

11:36- The Steelers take a shot down the field to Sammie Coates on 3rd and 1, but he couldn't make the play and the Steelers are forced to punt. LeVeon Bell had 2 carries for nine yards; expect to see a lot more of him. Patriots 3, Steelers 0

10:43- Awful protection on 3rd and 11 and the Patriots look like they did last week on that ugly three-and-out. The punt wasn't pretty either; let's hope this isn't the start of Patriots braincramps. Steelers take over at their own 38.

7:30- Big Ben takes a shot to Brown but Malcolm Brown almost picked it off; the Patriots take over at the Steelers 25 after the touchback. Good defense so far by New England. Patriots 3, Steelers 0

4:43- Chris Hogan makes a catch in the slot and takes it 26 yards for a huge play. 1st and 10, Patriots.

2:47- Touchdown, Patriots!! Chris Hogan with the 16-yard touchdown catch and the Patriots come up with a huge play on 3rd and 6 from the Steelers 16. New England knows they need touchdowns, not field goals. Great play by Brady to buy time, and great job by Hogan to break off his route and find an open spot in the end zone. Patriots 10, Steelers 0

SECOND QUARTER

14:00- The Steelers are driving; 2nd and 3 from the Patriots 15...

13:04- 1st down, Steelers. DeAngelo Williams is tearing up the Patriots defense.

12:34- 2nd & 7 from the Patriots 11 after a three-yard catch by Williams...

11:31- Touchdown, Steelers. DeAngelo Williams takes it in from five yards out and the Steelers come up with a huge touchdown. BIG miss on the extra point, as Patriots fans know after last year. Patriots 10, Steelers 6

10:01- Huge catch on 3rd and 10 by Edelman. 1st down Patriots from their own 42...

7:43- Touchdown, Patriots!! Chris Hogan with the flea-flicker catch and the Patriots up their lead to 11. Brady threw a perfect ball and the line did a great job in protection. New England is having trouble establishing the run, but they're throwing at will on the Steelers defense. Patriots 17, Steelers 6

5:36- DeAngelo Williams kills the Patriots. That is all.

1:39- Field goal, Steelers. Awful defense overall; no pass rush, weak coverage, and then they get a second life after the touchdown is called down at the one, and the stuff the Steelers like a high school team. Pittsburgh gets the field goal, but that is a huge momentum shift after Pittsburgh thought they cut the lead to four. The lead is eight. Patriots 17, Steelers 9

:00- Bennett gets tackled awkwardly on the last play of the half and he limps off, something that could be an issue in the second half. LeVeon Bell injured his groin and appears done for the night, which is unfortunate. Luckily for Pittsburgh, they have a strong backup in Williams. The Patriots offense looks like they are well on their way to another 30 point day. Patriots 17, Steelers 9

*Reports are saying that Bell will return in the 2nd half. They might be better of sticking with a healthy Williams.

HALFTIME

THIRD QUARTER

13:00- The Patriots force a three-and-out to open the second half and the offense will get a chance to make this a two score game. A field or a touchdown here is good, both extend this to a two-score lead. Patriots 17, Steelers 9

12:12- 3rd and 1 for the Patriots at their own 44...

12:00- Brady appeared to pick up the 1st down, but he may have fumbled. The Steelers challenged but it would need to be clear they recovered the ball too. It did look like the ball might have popped out before his knee was down, but the angles haven't shown what the Steelers need. Stay tuned, this is a huge play.

10:52- Hogan with another big catch, but two plays went for not and it's 3rd and 10....

9:59- Malcolm Mitchell barely misses the tip-toe catch for the 1st down, but Stephen Gostkowski came in a drilled a clutch 47-yard field goal to extend the Patriots lead to 11. Brady once again found open receivers throughout the series, and it appears the Patriots will be able to score whenever they get the ball. If that continues, Pittsburgh could be in trouble. Patriots 20, Steelers 9

7:10- The Steelers are driving; 2nd and 7 from the Patriots 39...

6:48- Roethlisberger takes a shot with Heyward-Bey but Eric Rowe has coverage. 3rd and 7....

6:44- Incomplete pass and the Steelers are forced to punt. New England takes over at their own 11. They'll look to extend their lead to three scores on this drive.

5:31- 1st down, Patriots. Edelman with a 13 yard cathc on 3rd and 7. Patriots at their own 32.

4:52- 1st down catch by James Develin; 1st down at their own 46.

4:13- Patriots can't run tonight, end of story.

3:29- The Chris Hogan Show continues; he makes another huge catch and takes the ball down to the Steelers 18.

2:44- Blount with an incredible run to take the ball down to the two, and then he easily punches it in to extend the Patriots lead to three scores. They just walked down the field like they were in a 7-on-7 drill, and that was an 89-yard drive; extra point is good. Patriots 27, Steelers 9

2:36- Fumble!! Patriots take over at the Steelers 28.

2:29- Edelman with an 18 yard catch, Patriots move to the Steelers 10.

1:35- Touchdown, Patriots!! Julian Edelman with an 11-yard catch on third down and the Patriots extend their lead to 24; it would be 25 but Gostkowski missed the extra point. Patriots 33, Steelers 9

:00- Pittsburgh will be facing a 3rd and 1 from the Patriots 13 to open the fourth quarter. The Steelers are in four down mode, so even if they don't pick up a 1st down, they'll be going for it on 4th. The Patriots need to do what they've done all game and not play to soft on defense; offensively, stay aggressive, Pittsburgh can score in bunches. Patriots 33, Steelers 9

FOURTH QUARTER

14:44- 1st and goal, Steelers...

14:00- 2nd and goal from the 5...

13:50- 3rd and goal from the 2....huge play...

13:11- 4th and goal from the 2...

13:06- Goal line stand! Logan Ryan continues his strong game with a pass breakup in the end zone and the Patriots defense keeps the Steelers out of the end zone again. Great job staying with it after giving up some big plays. The offense takes over, and now that they are still up 24, they should literally run it three times, take time off the clock, and if they don't get a 1st, punt it and play the clock game. Pittsburgh needs three more possessions, and killing the clock eliminates that.

11:42- Foolish throw on 1st down after strong running by Blount; run the ball, regardless if they stop it. It's time for game management.

10:36- Incomplete pass and the Steelers will get the ball back again. I don't understand why they would take Blount off the field when he's starting to feel it; give him the damn ball. Patriots 33, Steelers 9

10:14- Interception, Patriots! Miscommunication on that route and Eric Rowe reaps the rewards. Patriots take over at the Steelers 32.

8:57- 2nd and 8 from the Steelers 17...

8:15- 3rd and 1 from the 11

8:10- 1st down run by Blount; 1st and goal from the Steelers 5...

7:18- 2nd and goal from the 3...

6:24- Field goal, Patriots! Stephen Gostkowski kicks it through and extends the Patriots lead to 27. Great game from every phase of the Patriots today- offense, defense, special teams. Patriots 36, Steelers 9

3:36- Touchdown, Steelers. A little too late for it to really matter, but at least the Steelers can say they scored a touchdown; they also converted the two-point conversion. Patriots 36, Steelers 17

2:00- Brady downs it, the Steelers aren't going to use their timeout, and the Patriots are the 2016 AFC Champions! We're on to Atlanta...in Houston!

:00- The clock runs out and it's official, the Patriots are headed to Super Bowl LI.

FINAL SCORE- NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 36, PITTSBURGH STEELERS 17

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS- 2016 AFC CHAMPIONS!!

Thanks for joining us tonight for this historic Patriots win. The New England Patriots have now won the most conference championships in the history of the NFL; let that soak in for a minute. See you all in two weeks when the Patriots take on the high-flying Falcons in Houston. Goodnight, Patriots fans!

Follow me @chris_simoneau

 


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