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LeGarrette Blount Gives Patriots New Way to Torment Steelers

Apparently, leaving the Steelers bleeding in a ditch wasn’t good enough for the Patriots.

Bill Belichick figured he’d twist the knife one more time by signing LeGarrette Blount.

The Steelers dropped their weapons, put their hands up and took two steps back after they were steamrolled 55-31 at New England last year. The Steelers-Patriots rivalry that was sparked by the Patriots’ upset win in the 2001 AFC championship game was over. It ceased that day because the Steelers, who dropped to 2-6, had fallen too far behind the Patriots to match their long-term success during this era.

The Steelers’ 7-4 record this season is nice. Sure, they have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs for the first time in three years. But Tom Brady is a lot closer to earning his fourth Super Bowl ring than Ben Roethlisberger is to earning his third. That’s been the case for quite some time, but the point was driven home emphatically 13 months ago on that infamous evening in Foxboro.

The Steelers fell to 0-3 against Brady at Gillette Stadium and 3-7 against the Patriots in this century, including losses in the 2001 and 2004 AFC championship games. The 55 points and 629 yards allowed by the Steelers were the most in franchise history.

The Steelers hit rock bottom that day and the Patriots conquered them as a rival.

So why did Belichick have to poke them with a stick?

The Steelers signed Blount from New England as a free agent in March. He ran for 118 yards in a 37-19 win at Carolina in Week 3, but didn’t gain more than 29 in any other game. His low point came when he lost eight yards when given the ball at Jets’ 1-yard line in the Steelers’ 20-13 loss three weeks ago. One of the reasons the Steelers signed the 6’0″, 250-pounder was to punch the ball in at the goal line.

Le’Veon Bell ran for 204 yards the following week at Tennessee. It was the fourth-most gained by a Steelers running back in a single game, and it kept the Steelers defense off the field for the final seven minutes of the game while Pittsburgh nursed a 27-24 lead.

Blount didn’t care that he was witnessing history, or that Bell was sewing up a precious road victory for his team. There were no carries in it for him, so he pouted and walked off the field before the game was over. Then he got dressed and left the locker room before the team made it off the field after the game.

The Steelers didn’t need a pair of oars out of sync with the rest, and they released Blount the next day.

So Belichick, who’s just a laugh a minute in his press conferences, thought it would be funny to sign Blount and give him the ball last Sunday against the Lions. Blount had 78 yards and two touchdowns, mocking Antonio Brown’s touchdown dance after the first one, in the Patriots’ 34-9 victory.

How could the Patriots not have been yanking the Steelers’ chain? After all, at 9-2 they have the inside track on the top seed in the AFC playoffs. It’s not like they’re going to see the Steelers in January, right? The Patriots are more likely to see Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck in the playoffs than Ben Roethlisberger.

But what if the Steelers somehow find their way back to Foxboro?

The Patriots have made the playoffs every year that Tom Brady has been their quarterback because Belichick plays chess where everyone else plays checkers. But no matter how much he scans the waiver wire or studies game tape, there are intangibles beyond his control.

By taking back Blount, Belichick created a storyline linking the Patriots and Steelers. And these scripts have a funny way of being produced and making it to the big stage.

No way Jerome Bettis gets to finish his career winning the Super Bowl in his hometown. That would be too perfect.

Ken Whisenhunt gets passed over for a promotion to Steelers head coach. Good thing he went to the Cardinals. It’s not like the Cardinals would ever make it to the Super Bowl and give Whisenhunt a chance to get back at the Steelers.

Two Harbaugh brothers coaching in the NFL. That’s neat. What are the chances they actually face each other in the Super Bowl?

Just to make the 2014 playoffs, the Steelers would have to emerge from the pack of five 7-4 teams jockeying for a wild-card spot. Or they’d have to win the AFC North.

Just getting to the playoffs and winning a playoff game, which they haven’t done since 2010, would be a huge step forward for the Steelers franchise.

They exist in a universe far away from the championship-minded Patriots.

But the LeGarrette Blount saga has awakened some cosmic forces that are conspiring to make the Steelers and Patriots intersect one more time.

Follow Mike @Steel_Tweets

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