Bumbling Pats making it easy for Steelers

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots are fumbling away any chance to compete in the second half against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Gillette Stadium.

The score was 10-10 at halftime. The Steelers drove their first possession close enough for a field goal. Then the Patriots started dribbling the ball like Manute Bol.

The ensuing kickoff bounced off Matthew Slater's chest and was recovered by the Steelers on the Patriots' 8-yard line. Two plays later, Ben Roethlisberger hit Hines Ward for an 11-yard touchdown.

Slater didn't return for the next kickoff. Kevin Faulk was inserted, and he brought it out to the Patriots' 29-yard line.

That was all well and good, but on the first play, Steelers linebacker James Harrison sacked Matt Cassel and knocked the ball loose. LaMarr Woodley recovered for the Steelers on the 26-yard line.

The Patriots held them to a field goal, but the Steelers are ahead 23-10 with 2:41 left in the third quarter, and the Patriots have run only five plays.