FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In the aftermath of the New England Patriots’ thrilling 27-24 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, a natural reaction for those following the team is to ask the question: Is there a Patriots game that compares to it?
I jogged my memory and one that came to mind, with some help from others, was the divisional-round win over the Chargers in the playoffs following the 2006 regular season. Also known as the Troy Brown/Marlon McCree game, it had a sudden, unexpected ending. The locker-room atmosphere after that game reminded me of what it was like Sunday in Pittsburgh.
With this in mind, the question was asked to Bill Belichick in his day-after-game conference call.
“It was a similar ending to the Seattle game,” he said, in reference to Super Bowl XLIX. “The difference in that game, they had to score a touchdown. They were down by four [28-24]. This one, a field goal changed it, which again highlights the importance of the two-point play. Had we not hit that two-point play, then they would have just kneeled on the ball and kicked a field goal at the end.”
Belichick elaborated more on the similarities between Patriots-Steelers and Patriots-Seahawks, sharing thoughts on what unfolded Sunday at Heinz Field.
“There were so many big plays in that game, just go back through the fourth quarter of the game and really every play is a huge play. A difference in any of those plays in the fourth quarter -- maybe call it from the second half of the fourth quarter on, the last 7-8 minutes -- a change in any one of those plays could have affected the outcome of the game. That just, to me, showed how competitive the game was and how critical every single little thing is -- each play, each player, each call, each situation. It was a great football game. As I said, we were fortunate to make one play more than they did to win. It was a very highly competitive game against a good football team.
“I think, really, the message for us is every play is important. Every situation is important. You just have to be prepared for all of them. You never know which ones are going to come up, but being able to execute under pressure when they do, takes the other 59 minutes and 30 seconds or whatever; I’m not saying it’s meaningless, but it takes all those plays out of the game and now it comes down to just one play, or one situation, or one short period of time, a few seconds, and that determines the outcome of the game. So situational football is so critical at this time of the year.”