How Sweet it is, Relatively Speaking

Mike Prisuta talks to some vets -- Hines Ward and Larry Foote -- who've beaten New England at Halloween time. They add perspective.

Wide receiver Hines Ward has been butting heads with the Patriots since his arrival in Pittsburgh in 1998. And his record against New England, prior to Sunday, had been a frustrating 2-7.

That would account for the smile Ward flashed upon leaving the locker room following the Steelers' 25-17 triumph.

He didn't play, but given the history between the teams he'll take it.

But Ward also departed with perspective.

"It's big; It's not a Super Bowl for us," he said. "We're not going to be like other teams that celebrate too much. We have a tough challenge next week.

"It's a great win for our organization, for our team because it's an AFC game. But I've been here when we beat the Patriots in the regular season and they came back and beat us in the postseason. So we're going to stack this one, enjoy it for the night and get ready for Baltimore.

"It's not a redemption game."

Larry Foote, a Steelers linebacker in every season but one since 2002, also appreciated the historical significance of Sunday, but only to a degree.

"It's in the back of our minds, don't make any mistake about it, but it's so early in the season," Foote said. "If it was January I'd be pumping my chest, but we have Baltimore (coming up). We have to go home, enjoy it a little bit and get ready."

* Those who continue to rage against OC Bruce Arians and the "empty" set take note:

The Steelers went "empty" – no one but Roethlisberger in the backfield – 13 times against New England. Those plays resulted in 10 completions that netted 95 yards and produced five first downs and two touchdowns.

"We felt like we could take advantage of their secondary," Ward said. "We felt like our receiving corps against their secondary, that we could take advantage of that, and we did.

"They left Heath (Miller) uncovered the whole first drive. Once he started catching, then they tried to take Heath away."

That opened up someone else.

And so it went.

The "empty," five-wides look also surrendered a sack, as it has periodically this season. But more often than not it's effective, as it was against the Pats. The Steelers need to get to this more often.

* Two things you rarely see in a New England game – the offense going three-and-out and Tom Brady getting sacked. The Steelers' defense produced both on the Patriots' first two possessions. It was the start the defense needed.

* Running back Mewelde Moore covered the kickoff that followed his 5-yard touchdown reception. Now that's putting your hand in the pile.

* So much for the theory that teams had been piling up passing yards against the Patriots because the Patriots had been playing from so far ahead so often.

Roethlisberger amassed 231 of those while going 23-for-32 in a first half in which the Steelers never trailed.

Teams pile up passing yards against the Patriots because the Patriots can't play pass defense. The Steelers need to remember that in the event there's a rematch.

* Foote said Brady was "rattled." But he still threw for two touchdowns and compiled a passer rating of 101.8, besting Roethlisberger's 97.5 (that's what happens when you don't throw interceptions).

And the drive that pulled New England to within 23-17 with 2:35 remaining began with Brady hitting four different receivers (Wes Welker, Deion Branch, Rob Gronkowski and Kevin Faulk) for 52 yards on four consecutive throws.

Good thing the Steelers managed a first down after that.

As well as the defense played all game long, giving Brady the ball back with two minutes or so remaining wouldn't have ended well for the Steelers.

* Everybody have fun tonight.

Everybody Pat Chung tonight.


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