PHOTO: New England Patriots' Deion Branch (83) and David Givens (87) celebrate after Branch's 60-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter of the AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, Jan. 23, 2005, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Tom Puskar)
Fan Files: Patriots Excellence Even Amazes Fans
Patriots Demolish Steelers 41-27
by Michelle Vitagliano, Fan Commentator
Just when I think the New England Patriots can't possibly get any better, they go and prove me wrong, very wrong, and I love every second of it. Sunday's much anticipated match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers was supposed to be a competitive and close game. The Pats were playing at Pittsburgh for the AFC championship title and it was the Steelers who put an end to the Patriots' winning streak and beat us 34-20 on that gloomy Halloween Night, on that very same field, just three months ago.
Let me make one thing clear, I was confident that the Pats would win this game but because they were playing away, I didn't think it would be easy one. What I wasn't expecting was a total blowout that would start as early as the first quarter. The 16-2 Pats managed to keep their cool in the 11-degree weather but were on fire the second they stepped on the field. In the end, they put a stop to the Steelers' 15-game winning streak which packed a much harder punch than when the Steelers ended our 21 game winning streak back in October. By the fourth quarter, Steelers fans started a mass exodus leaving just a few behind to watch their team's season come to an end.
Adam Vinatieri was the first to put points up on the board with a 48-yard field goal and by the end of the first half, the Pats had a comfortable 24-3 lead that kept weary Steelers' fans, some who had prematurely purchased T-shirts boasting a Pittsburgh victory, squirming in their seats. What's that saying about don't count your chickens ?
As usual, it was a true team effort that led to the Patriot's 41-27 victory over the Steelers and the fact that we beat them on their own field made the win even sweeter!
The Pats never fumbled the ball, Brady had no interceptions and they had no turnovers. Ben Roethlisberger should have been so lucky but instead, he threw three interceptions, two that were caught by Eugene Wilson and the other by Rodney Harrison who returned the ball for an 87 yard touchdown. Deion Branch, David Givens and Corey Dillon, who was injured and forced to watch from the sidelines last time these two teams met, all scored touchdowns as mastermind Bill Belichick brilliantly orchestrated the Pats' third trip to the Super Bowl in the last four years. I like how that sounds . third trip to the Super Bowl in the last four years.
I don't know what the announcers were saying because I was watching the game at a bar and it was too loud to hear anything but my when I checked in with my father at half time, he told me that he had to mute the volume on the TV and turn on the radio because the TV announcers didn't seem to want the Pats to win. Well that's just too bad because we did and we're heading for Jacksonville in less than two weeks to battle it out against the Philadelphia Eagles. I watched a little bit of the Eagles game on Sunday and Donovan McNabb looked good but if I had to put money on the game, I would bet on the Pats!
On a final note, if there is anyone out there reading this that has an extra ticket to the game and needs a date to bring, well, I'm free that weekend so please don't hesitate to call! Go Pats!!!
Michelle Vitagliano, passionate Boston sports fan that she is, can be found in the insiders forums under the screen name Patriette. Her weekly fan commentary can be found here on the Patriots Insider site, or you can search for her articles on the Insiders by searching for "Michelle Vitagliano". If you're a local, you can find her mostly around the Boston scene on game night, hanging out with her friends.
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