Photo credits: (Photo/Gail Burton)

Patriots Rout Steelers 36-17, Advance to Super Bowl LI

(THE PICKET) – New England Patriots are on their way to their NFL record-setting ninth Super Bowl appearance after embarrassing the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-17. A much unexpected defeat to say the least, not many believed that the Steelers would give up 36 points after holding the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs to under 20 points in two previous playoff matchups.

Tom Brady and the Patriots approached this game much different than when they played the Houston Texans. On the first play from scrimmage, Tom Brady operated from the shotgun and hit tight end Martellus Bennett for a 12 yard gain. The following play Julian Edelman grabbed his 77th career postseason (7th all-time) catch from Brady for a 41 yard gain. The next two plays were short passes to Malcolm Mitchell and Danny Amendola which led to a 4th and 1, the Patriots then settled for a field goal.

Despite missing out on a touchdown of their first drive, Brady and the Patriots were satisfied. Their plan was to get the Steelers on their heels and make them uncomfortable early. This was a total new approach from their previous game against Houston where the Patriots started off with a sluggish first half.

As for the Steelers, two out of their “Big 3” weren’t their typical selves. Le’Veon Bell, who struggled with an injury, rushed for 20 yards on 6 attempts. Antonio Brown caught 7 passes for 77 yards, not his usual self to say the least. This was thanks to Matt Patricia’s defensive game plan. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 314 yards and a touchdown to receiver Cobi Hamilton late in the fourth quarter.

The Patriots defense stood strong once again. They knew they had a big task with the Steelers’ high-powered offense coming into town. They have one more chance to prove that their stout defense is something that should be talked about more often.

On February 5th, 2017, the New England Patriots will battle with the Atlanta Falcons at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. Houston is a place Patriots know pretty well. In 2004 the New England Patriots defeated the Carolina Panthers in the then named Reliant Stadium to win Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Now, the Patriots have a new NFC South opponent, a huge task at hand in Houston this time around. That task’s name is MVP candidate Matt Ryan. This year’s Super Bowl has a lot of hype surrounding it because of the two high powered offenses.

This is unfamiliar territory for the Falcons, who haven’t played in the Super Bowl since 1998 when Gary Andersen’s luck fell just short (literally) of a Super Bowl appearance for the Minnesota Vikings. The Patriots have a 4-4 record in the Super Bowl, Tom Brady is looking to surpass greats such as Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana by winning his record setting fifth Super Bowl.

It’ll be great to see how this game goes, two exciting teams will battle for the Lombardi Trophy in Houston, Texas.

The Falcons will march into Houston in their red uniforms while the Patriots will wear their white uniforms. Patriots’ fans are hoping the streak of “white jersey winners” continues in the Super Bowl on February 5th.

Ryan Sturdivant is a Sports Reporter for The Picket. He can be reached at

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