Brady throws four TDs as the Pats rout Steelers

Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has again showed the football world just how dangerous he can be when he has all his weapons.
Playing only his second game with both tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Danny Amendola on the field together, Brady turned in his best game of the season in destroying the Pittsburgh defense as the Patriots opened their second half with a 55-31 victory over the Steelers on Sunday.
"You don't wake up in the morning and think they're going to be like that. That was pretty sweet," Brady said after leading his team to 31 points in less than 12 minutes bridging the third and fourth quarters.
It hasn't been "like that" for Brady this season. He entered 2013 without favorite receiver Wes Welker, with tight end Aaron Hernandez in jail on murder charges and with Gronkowski rehabbing back and arm surgeries. Amendola, signed as a free agent to replace Welker, got hurt twice. He returned in the Oct. 27 win over Miami, a week after Gronkowski debuted.
On Sunday, it all came together, as the Steelers allowed the most points and most yards (610) the franchise has ever yielded in a game.
"When we're clicking we're clicking and it's awesome," Gronkowski said.
Brady threw for 432 yards and four touchdowns and continued his move up the too-many-to-list NFL stats ladders ... and really looking like Brady for the first time.
In the previous four games, he failed to score a quarterback rating over 75. On Sunday, when he averaged 18.8 yards per completion, he had a 151.8.
The timing is probably not a coincidence.
"When Gronk plays like that and can produce like that and Danny does that and Aaron (Dobson) does that and the backs do that (197 yards rushing as a team, including 115 yards and two touchdowns by Stevan Ridley) and the line blocks, it's a good way to play football," Brady said.
Brady, throwing for 400 yards for the fifth time and taking over sixth place on the NFL's career completion list and seventh in passing yards, hit rookie Dobson with two touchdown passes, including an 81-yard bomb in the fourth quarter. He also threw TDs to Amendola and Gronkowski as New England (7-2) won for the third time in four games.
Gronkowski caught a career-high nine passes for 143 yards and Amendola had four grabs for 122.
The Patriots, who amassed their third-highest yards total ever, started the second half of the season as they normally do -- with a win. They were 23-1 the last three second halves and have won seven straight November games.
The Steelers, who battled back from a 14-point halftime deficit to tie the game before the tidal wave hit, fell to 2-6, their worst start since 2006.
"It was something that in my 12 years has never happened here," Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel said. "I wish I could say what happened or what was the problem. We just got our butts kicked today."
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw three touchdown passes to wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, two coming less than four minutes apart in the third quarter to tie the score at 24.
The Patriots went ahead on place-kicker Stephen Gostkowski's second field goal and Julian Edelman's 43-yard punt return set the stage for a 17-yard scoring pass to Dobson. Ridley, who lost a fumble, scored from 5 yards with 9:16 left and LeGarrette Blount powered in from the 5 to close the scoring.
Brady, who threw four TDs with no interceptions for an NFL-record 15th time, finished 23-for-33 for 432 yards. Roethlisberger was 28-for-48 for 400 yards, four TDs and two interceptions.
"We can't take much from it," Cotchery (seven catches, 96 yards) said of the offensive output. "The focus is getting a win. That's the only thing we care about, getting a win."
NOTES: Red Sox owner John Henry and 10 players were honored before the game, pitcher Jon Lester carrying the World Series trophy. Later, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said, "Maybe we got our inspiration from the Red Sox." ... Patriots DE Rob Ninkovich, whose first-half sack forced a fumble, went to the locker room in the third quarter with a foot injury. S Steve Gregory (thumb) and WR Austin Collie also left. ... Steelers LB Vince Williams and CB Ike Taylor left with concussions, OT Marcus Gilbert with an ankle injury. ... Gronkowski's third catch of four, a 27-yarder, on a first-quarter drive was the 200th reception of his career. He also notched his 11th 100-yard game, a club record at the position. Amendola had 100 yards for the fourth time, Dobson for the first. Gronkowski left with an injury, but only for six plays. ... Rookie WR Kenbrell Thompkins, who had 23 catches in the first seven games but none last week, was a surprise New England scratch, with CB Aqib Talib missing his third straight game with a hip injury. ... Pittsburgh G David DeCastro was out with an ankle injury. ... The Patriots placed DT Tommy Kelly (knee) on season-ending injured reserve after he apparently was re-injured in practice during the week. ... DT Isaac Sopoaga, acquired from the Eagles, made his Patriots debut. ... The Steelers play the next two games at home, with Buffalo visiting next week. New England is off.

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