PHOTO: Pittsburgh Steelers' fans enjoy a 24 point first half by the Steelers against the New England Patriots in NFL action Sunday, Oct. 31, 2004 in Pittsburgh.(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Filly Files: No Sweets this Halloween
by Michelle Vitagliano, Fan Commentator
Halloween wasn't so sweet for the New England Patriots on Sunday after they endured their first loss of the season to the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-20. Heinz Field drew a record crowd of 64,737 fans who came prepared with signs and banners announcing that the Pat's 21-game winning streak was finally over.
The Pats allowed 21 points in the first quarter, committed four turnovers, had a one-yard gain on the running play in the first half and had a total of five total rushing yards in the whole game. Tom Brady's numbers weren't all that great either with two interceptions, a fumble and four sacks. Then there were my numbers. Four times I screamed at the TV after the Steelers scored a touchdown, twice I asked my father what the hell was wrong with the Pats, five times I told my mother that it wasn't right for kids to be ringing the doorbell during a Patriot's game, twice I asked her if the guy that came to the door with his own bag of candy and wasn't afraid to dig in to our candy bowl really was the father of the two kids he was with (and he was - can you believe this, a grown man asking for candy on Halloween!!!) a few times I thought that Pittssburgh's head coach Bill Cowher's face when he's mad is as scary as any mask I'd seen that night and once I broke the news to a trick-or-treater dressed in a Pats uniform that they lost.
I'd like to believe the Pats lost because Corey Dillon was out with a thigh injury, Ty Law had a left foot injury in the first quarter, and both Tyrone Poole and Tom Ashworth sat this one out. I'd like to think they lost because they wanted to give Pittsburg rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a chance to really shine against one of the best teams in the league (which he did after completing 18-of-24 passes for 196 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and no sacks - not bad for a 23-year old). I'd like to think that the Pats just wanted to let Red Sox enjoy one more day in the spotlight before all the fans jumped on the Pats bandwagon.
But the truth is that the Patriots play and win games without some of their best players. This is a team with one of the best quarterbacks in the league who doesn't want or need to share the spotlight with a rookie. This is a team that wants to ride those duck boats through the streets of Boston in yet another victory parade, especially now that the route has been extended to include the Charles River. No one expects the New England Patriots to lose, especially the way they did.
So what went wrong on Sunday? I don't have all the answers as I spent about half the game handing out candy to kids, many of whom were dressed as Tom Brady. But I do know this. At this time last year, the Pats had two losses on their record and in the end, they were Super Bowl champs. So this game isn't an omen, it's not a sign of what's to come. It was a loss and hopefully, one that they will learn from.
There are a lot more games to be played this season and losing one game doesn't mean the end of the world. I'm more concerned about our injured players making a comeback than I am with our first loss of the season. Some of the best teams in sports lose games and still make it to the top. The Pats had a bad game on Sunday and have some work to do this week before they face the Rams next weekend in St. Louis. The winning streak may be over but the season is not.
Michelle Vitagliano, passionate Boston sports fan that she is, can be found in the insiders forums. 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.
If you are reading this article via a news portal, you can find the original