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For the first time since 2002, the Patriots have lost back-to-back games in December.

Sunday’s defeat came at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who did just enough to hold on for a 17-10 win over New England. Quarterback Tom Brady drove the Patriots within scoring range as time ran down in the fourth quarter, but his fourth-down pass to the end zone with 20 seconds left was knocked away by the Steelers’ defense.

Related: Instant Analysis: The reality is, the Patriots are simply not a great team

New England fell to 9-5 (3-5 on the road), its first season with at least five losses since 2009, and dropped to the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs.

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“We’re just obviously not playing well enough to win,” Brady said. “Just missed opportunities, too many plays where we got opportunities to do stuff with it and we don’t. It’s football. Wish outcomes were different. But just have to get back to work.”

It was the second straight week that New England could have wrapped up the AFC East, but came up short. The Patriots are looking for their 10th straight division title.

Related: Chad Finn: Let’s face it, it doesn’t appear to be the Patriots’ year

“I was proud of our guys, how we battled, all the way from the first play to the last. In the end, we just came up short. They made a few more plays than we did,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.

The Patriots committed a season-high 14 penalties (their most since 2014), Brady threw a bad interception, three receivers dropped passes, and the run defense was again shredded.

Brady and Belichick both complimented the defense’s performance overall despite the unit giving up 158 yards on the ground. Belichick said he was pleased with how the defensive backs competed against a tough group of pass catchers. Safety Duron Harmon, who intercepted Roethlisberger twice, said the group “played solid defense.”

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“But for whatever reason it just wasn’t enough for a win,” he said. “We still could have played better. We’re a team. There’s been times when we gave up 42 points and our offense did enough for us to win.”

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was 22-of-39 passing for 235 yards, two touchdowns, and the two picks as the Steelers collected 376 yards (142 on the ground by rookie Jaylen Samuels). Pittsburgh was 4 of 9 on third down.

It was Roethlisberger’s first regular-season victory over New England since 2011.

“This is a total team victory. I’m so proud of so many guys, all phases of football,” Roethlisberger said.

Brady completed 25 of 36 passes to eight receivers for 279 yards, and a touchdown. On the red-zone interception, Brady said he was trying to throw it away to avoid the sack, but didn’t get enough on it.

“Yeah, I was just trying to flick it outta bounds and didn’t,” he said.

But key penalties, including five in the red zone and five false starts, were damaging enough.

“Pretty much the penalties in the red area made the difference,” Belichick said. “That’s once of those typical tough football game against the Steelers.”

The Steelers (8-5-1) maintained their slim lead in the AFC North standings and are in fourth in the AFC playoff picture. Baltimore, which defeated Tampa Bay on Sunday, is 8-6 and in the second wild-card slot with two weeks to go in the season.

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“It’s that time of year, every game is a must-win for us. Regardless of who we’re playing, where we’re playing, we need them all,” Roethlisberger said.

Here is the box score and play by play.

Photos from the game

Tom Brady gives a thumbs up to Ben Roethlisberger when they met at midfield after the game.
Tom Brady gives a thumbs up to Ben Roethlisberger when they met at midfield after the game.Jim Davis/Globe Staff
Tom Brady howls in disgust after New England failed to convert on a third down in the second quarter.
Tom Brady howls in disgust after New England failed to convert on a third down in the second quarter.Jim Davis/Globe Staff
Tom Brady sits on the turf after his last pass of the game fell incomplete in the end zone.
Tom Brady sits on the turf after his last pass of the game fell incomplete in the end zone.Jim Davis/Globe Staff
Jonathan Jones made a great diving play to knock the ball back before it fall into the end zone on a second quarter punt.
Jonathan Jones made a great diving play to knock the ball back before it fall into the end zone on a second quarter punt.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Below are updates and analysis from the game as it unfolded.

Fourth quarter

Steelers 17, Patriots 10 (0:00): Tom Brady threw three straight passes intended for Rob Gronkowski on New England’s final possession. The first two sailed through the back of the end zone, before Brady’s throw on fourth and 15 was batted down for an incompletion.

Ben Roethlisberger took a knee after the turnover on downs to complete a 17-10 Steelers’ victory.

The Patriots offense’ was flagged for two more penalties on the drive, the first a false start whistle on Joe Thuney and the second for holding on Shaq Mason. Brady made up for one of those penalties with a 34-yard completion to Julian Edelman, but could not breach the end zone in the final four tries.

Steelers 17, Patriots 10 (2:30): After Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson ripped the ball away from JuJu Smith-Schuster to stop the Steelers drive, kicker Chris Boswell split the uprights for a 48-yard field goal.

Running back Jaylen Samuels led the Steelers downfield, going for 20 yards on third and 9 and following that up with a 15-yard rush into New England territory. Pittsburgh reached the 30-yard line before Jackson’s intervention deep downfield forced the offense off the field.

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Steelers 14, Patriots 10 (7:43): Joe Haden picked off Tom Brady on a pass intended for Julian Edelman, ending an eight-play 43-yard drive by the Patriots. Edelman came up hurt on the play. Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh offense took over at their own 4-yard line.

The Patriots committed two penalties inside the red zone on the drive: False start by Trent Brown on third and 8 from the 13 and holding by Marcus Cannon on first and goal from the 5.

Rob Gronkowski, who hadn’t caught a pass before the New England drive began, got involved with two catches for first downs.

Steelers 14, Patriots 10 (13:29): Stephon Gilmore broke up a Ben Roethlisberger pass, deflecting the ball into Duron Harmon’s hands for the safety’s second interception of the evening. Tom Brady and Co. took over at their own 41.

Third quarter

Steelers 14, Patriots 10 (0:17): Stephen Gostkowski made a 33-yard field goal to trim Pittsburgh’s lead.

It was the 50th straight make inside 40 yards by Gostkowski, who came on for the kick after Julian Edelman was stuffed 1 yard shy of the first down.

New England got its ground game going on the possession, running on eight of the drive’s 13 plays and eating up more than 8 minutes of clock.

The drive was also aided by a pass interference call on Joe Haden on third and 16.

But the Patriots committed three penalties on the drive, two back-to-back by Julian Edelman early in the possession and one by holder Ryan Allen on the field goal.

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Steelers 14, Patriots 7 (8:32): Chris Boswell missed a 32-yard field goal wide right, leaving Pittsburgh with no points after a nine-play, 65-yard drive that included catches of 32 and 24 yards by James Washington and an intentional grounding penalty on Ben Roethlisberger.

The Steelers drove to the New England 4-yard line, before the grounding penalty pushed them back 10 yards. Pittsburgh had one more chance for seven points, but Vance McDonald couldn’t keep both feet in bounds in the end zone.

Steelers 14, Patriots 7 (13:00): The New England offense was forced to punt for the fifth straight possession. After Sony Michel ripped off a 13-yard run on the first play, he posted back-to-back 2-yard runs to set up a third and 6. But Josh Gordon dropped a pass from Tom Brady, bringing out Ryan Allen to boot it away.

Halftime stats

Total yards: NE 167, PIT 217

Plays: NE 22, PIT 35

Yards per play: NE 7.6, PIT 6.2

First downs: NE 6, PIT 15

Third down: NE 1-5, PIT 2-4

Rushing yards: NE 29, PIT 84

Red zone: NE 0-0, PIT 2-2

Penalties: NE 6 for 56 yards, PIT 2 for 9 yards

Time of possession: NE 10:54, PIT 19:06

Tom Brady: 11 of 16 for 138 yards, TD, 116.1 rating

Ben Roethlisberger: 17 of 23, 150 yards, 2 TD, INT, 101.7 rating

NE receiving: Cordarrelle Patterson 3 catches for 20 yards, Josh Gordon 1 for 19, Chris Hogan 1 for 63 (TD), James Develin 2 for 18, Julian Edelman 2 for 8, James White 1 for 6, Rex Burkhead 1 for 4, Rob Gronkowski 0 catches.

PIT receiving: Antonio Brown 4 for 49 (TD), JuJu Smith-Schuster 3 for 39, Eli Rogers 4 for 20, Jaylen Samuels 1 for 10, Jessee James 1 for 9, James Washington 1 for 9, Ryan Switzer 2 for 9, Vance McDonald 1 for 5 (TD).

NE rushing: Sony Michel 4 carries for 21 yards, James White 1 for 6, Rex Burkhead 1 for 2.

PIT rushing: Jaylen Samuels 7 for 70, Stevan Ridley 1 for 12, Ryan Switzer 1 for 3.

Second quarter

Steelers 14, Patriots 7 (0:21): Although Cordarrelle Patterson thought he had fought for a first down on third and 9, the call was overturned and the Patriots wide receiver was ruled down short of the marker.

The Patriots’ offense initially lined up to go for it, but then subbed in the punt team, with Ryan Allen booting it to the Pittsburgh 19-yard line. Ben Roethlisberger took a knee to end the half.

Patterson had moved the chains already in the drive, reeling in a Tom Brady pass on third and 5, the Patriots’ first third-down conversion of the contest. Brady nearly connected with Julian Edelman deep downfield three plays later, but the ball caromed off the wideout’s hands for an incompletion.

Steelers 14, Patriots 7 (5:13): New England couldn’t do anything with Duron Harmon’s interception and punted for the third straight possession. Tom Brady threw one incomplete pass before connecting with Julian Edelman for a 5-yard gain to bring up third down. The Patriots quarterback felt the Steelers pass rush and threw a hurried incompletion intended for James White. Punter Ryan Allen sent the Steelers back to their 28-yard line.

Steelers 14, Patriots 7 (6:01): On seocnd and 10 from the New England 46-yard line, Ben Roethlisberger fired a pass intended for JuJu Smith-Schuster over the middle. But the ball sailed past Smith-Schuster and into the waiting arms of Patriots safety Duron Harmon.

It was Harmon’s fourth career interception against the Steelers.

Steelers 14, Patriots 7 (9:18): After the New England offense stalled, the Patriots special teams downed Ryan Allen’s punt at the Pittsburgh 1-yard line.

Jonathan Jones and Rex Burkhead each had spectacular dives to bat the football out of the end zone and avoid the touchback. Ramon Humber ultimately downed it at the 1.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin challenged the play, but the ruling was upheld.

Jonathan Jones made a great diving play to knock the ball back before it landed in the end zone.
Jonathan Jones made a great diving play to knock the ball back before it landed in the end zone.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Steelers 14, Patriots 7 (12:01): Ben Roethlisberger threw a dart to Antonio Brown for a 17-yard touchdown. The score was set up after Jonathan Jones was flagged for pass interference on Eli Rogers, giving Pittsburgh the ball at the New England 17. It was an eight-play, 92-yard drive by the Steelers. It was Brown’s 13th touchdown catch of the season.

First quarter

Earlier on scoring drive, Roethlisberger tossed the football up and let JuJu Smith-Schuster go get it for a 22-yard gain on second and 14.

Patriots 7, Steelers 7 (1:27): Tom Brady and the New England offense stalled at the Pittsburgh 46. The drive went five plays and included drops by Julian Edelman and James White, a 19-yard completion to Josh Gordon (his first target and catch of the day), and an 11-yard completion to James Develin.

Patriots 7, Steelers 7 (3:06): The New England defense got to Ben Roethlisberger twice in five plays, forcing the Steelers to punt. Kyle Van Noy sacked the Pittsburgh quarterback for a 10-yard loss on first down, then Jonathan Jones did the same for a 7-yard loss on third down to stall the drive. Julian Edelman signaled for a fair catch at the New England 22-yard line.

Patriots 7, Steelers 7 (6:48): The Patriots needed just three plays to tie the game. After two short passes — and a too many men on the field penalty on the Steelers — Tom Brady fired a deep ball to a wide-open Chris Hogan, who waltzed into the end zone untouched for a 63-yard touchdown. Stephen Gostkowski added the extra point to draw New England level.

It was Hogan’s first touchdown since Week 2 and his third of the season.

It was Brady’s 24th TD pass of 60-plus yards and his first since Week 11 last season.

Don Wright/Associated Press

Steelers 7, Patriots 0 (8:40): Ben Roethlisberger connected with tight end Vance McDonald for a 5-yard touchdown, capping off an 11-play, 75-yard opening drive by Pittsburgh.

The Steelers tested the Patriots’ struggling run defense early, with Jaylen Samuels picking up 39 yards on four carries, including a 25-yard scamper.

Roethlisberger kept the drive from stalling in Pittsburgh territory, connecting with wide receiver Eli Rogers across the middle for a first down on third and 3, one of two third-down conversions by the Steelers on the possession.

Coin toss

The Steelers won the toss and elected to receive, giving the Patriots a chance at a double-score.

Pregame scenes

Receiver Josh Gordon.
Receiver Josh Gordon.Don Wright/Associated Press
Tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski.Don Wright/Associated Press
Receiver Julian Edelman.
Receiver Julian Edelman.Don Wright/Associated Press
Receiver Chris Hogan.
Receiver Chris Hogan.Don Wright/Associated Press
Receiver Cordarrelle Paterson was having some fun before the game, playing catch with some fans in the stands. Here, he reacts when one fan he tossed the ball to didn't make the catch.
Receiver Cordarrelle Paterson was having some fun before the game, playing catch with some fans in the stands. Here, he reacts when one fan he tossed the ball to didn't make the catch.Jim Davis/Globe Staff
Tom Brady during warmups.
Tom Brady during warmups.Don Wright/Associated Press
Tom Brady (12) and Brian Hoyer (2) take the field for warmups.
Tom Brady (12) and Brian Hoyer (2) take the field for warmups.Don Wright/Associated Press
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) during warm ups.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) during warm ups.Keith Srakocic/Associated Press
Tom Brady walks off the field after surveying it before the game.
Tom Brady walks off the field after surveying it before the game.Justin Berl/Getty Images
Patriots football research director Ernie Adams was out on the field early checking out the scene as well as the turf conditions.
Patriots football research director Ernie Adams was out on the field early checking out the scene as well as the turf conditions.Jim Davis/Globe Staff
Tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski.Don Wright/Associated Press
Wide receiver Josh Gordon.
Wide receiver Josh Gordon.Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

Inactives

For the Patriots, defensive lineman Keionta Davis, defensive back Duke Dawson, defensive end Derek Rivers, offensive lineman James Ferentz, defensive lineman Danny Shelton, defensive back Obi Melifonwu, and tight end Jacob Hollister are inactive.

For the Steelers, quarterback Mason Rudolph, safety Marcus Allen, cornerback Brian Allen, running back James Conner, tackle Zach Banner, linebacker Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, and defensive end L.T. Walton are inactive.

This and that

■ The Steelers downgraded running back James Conner (ankle) to doubtful. The club also activated receiver Eli Rogers from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. He had an 18-yard catch-and-run touchdown against the Patriots last season.

■ Sunday will be the 27th regular-season meeting between the clubs, with the Steelers owning a 14-12 advantage, including a 10-8 mark in Pittsburgh. The franchises have met five times in the postseason, with the Patriots holding a 4-1 edge

■   Steelers assistant head coach John Mitchell was Belichick’s defensive line coach with the Browns from 1991-93.

■   Winning on the road has been a staple of the Patriots’ reign, but this season has been a struggle. Their gut-punch loss to the Dolphins last week dropped them to 3-4 away from Gillette Stadium.

— Jim McBride and Julian Benbow, Globe Staff

Steelers’ keys to victory

1.) Gone, gone, gone: Mike Tomlin’s club must put its three-game skid — and their recent history against the Patriots — in the rearview. This game against this team is all that really matters.

2.) Mr. Roboto: Ben Roethlisberger has to be sharp — particularly in the red zone. Taking unnecessary risks will haunt you against opportunistic teams. Take the safe route to stay in it for the long haul.

3.) Renegade: T.J. Watt must dominate. He has the skills to set the edge against the run and crush the pocket. His teammates feed off his energy, so he has to bring it all game long.

Patriots’ keys to victory

1.) The Best of Times: Bury those Miami memories and move on — you can’t let the stunning loss to the Dolphins carryover and lead to another loss. Conjure up the good feelings of past trips here.

2.) Show Me the Way: The offensive line must create space for Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, and James White to move the ball on the ground. Striking a balance is essential to success.

3.) Having a Ball: Get the ball to Rob Gronkowski. The tight end is coming off his best game and has traditionally thrived against Pittsburgh’s scheme. Feed him until they stop him.

Jim McBride, Globe Staff

Related: NFL scoreboard