Pittsburgh Steelers defeat New England Patriots, 34-20

The Patriots suffered a severe blow yesterday when All-Pro cornerback Ty Law left with an undisclosed left foot injury on the third series of the game and never returned.

The Patriots were, as usual, mum on Law's injury, initially indicating he was "questionable" to return and then "doubtful" by the second half. With Tyrone Poole already out with a knee injury, it forced the team to use rookie Randall Gay in Law's spot and the Steelers took advantage, burning Gay on a 4...

Tom Brady got the Patriots off to their usual start yesterday. The quarterback advanced New England steadily downfield on its first drive of the game, and though the drive ended with an Adam Vinatieri 43-yard field goal with 11:39 left in the first quarter, it marked the 15th straight game in which the Patriots scored first.

Yet the Patriots repeatedly have insisted that you can't base many conclusions on who scores first, and yesterday proved them correct.

How decis...

Their baseball brothers, the Red Sox, are proof that all streaks must end, winning the World Series last week after an 86-year drought. So as if to balance the slate, the sports gods yesterday looked down upon New England and said, "Do not be greedy."

Thus, the Patriots' record 21-game winning streak ended. The Team That Could Not Lose finally met its match in the Pittsburgh Steelers, 34-20, before a record-breaking Heinz Field crowd of 64,737.

There were no excuses...

To the question of whether it would end with a bang or a whimper, here is the unequivocal numerical answer: Pittsburgh 34, New England 20.

''It was pretty clear the Steelers were the better team," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. ''They outcoached us. They outplayed us. They certainly deserved to win, and they won convincingly."

Thus ended yesterday an almost unimaginable football feat. The New England Patriots had gone 21 games and 13 calendar months without losi...