Patriots seal win over Steelers with batted-ball end-zone interception

The New England Patriots won one of the best games of this regular season on a controversial final sequence.

New England safety Duron Harmon secured a batted ball in the end zone intended for receiver Eli Rogers, ending the Pittsburgh Steelers’ last-gasp effort to get the game-winning score.

Ben Roethlisberger took aim at Rogers, who was covered by Eric Rowe, on a third-down slant; on replay, it’s possible Rowe could have been called for defensive pass interference, but he was not. Instead, the ball got batted up and Harmon plucked it out of the air.

Ben Roethlisberger (C) blocks for running back Le’Veon Bell during the second half against the New England Patriots on Sunday. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

The Steelers had to reset their offense, having had a touchdown taken off the board thanks to another is-it-a-catch-or-isn’t-it play on first down. Roethlisberger threw for tight end Jesse James, and at first, officials called it a touchdown.

But after a lengthy review, the call was reversed, as it was determined that James didn’t control the ball the entire time.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady notched the 51st fourth-quarter comeback win of his career, driving his team 77 yards in just 70 seconds for the go-ahead touchdown. Rob Gronkowski, who continued his string of excellent games against Pittsburgh – he had nine catches for 168 yards on Sunday, including three for 69 on the Patriots’ final drive – caught the two-point conversion.

It was the first time New England led all game.

The win clinched the AFC East title for New England, the ninth straight division title for the team and 14th in the past 15 years.

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