PITTSBURGH — Tom Brady maintained his mastery of the Steelers, throwing three touchdown passes to tight end Rob Gronkowski and scoring once himself, and the Patriots beat the Steelers 39-26 on Sunday night.
No NFL team wins more on its home field than Pittsburgh, but no opposing player wins there like Brady, who has won six of seven overall against the Steelers and four of five at Heinz Field. He was 30 of 43 for 350 yards with no sacks or interceptions, and now has 14 career TD throws and three interceptions against the Steelers.
Pittsburgh, its normally dominating defense shredded by Brady during its second home-field loss this season, played most of the game without wide receiver Hines Ward (neck), whose streak of 186 consecutive games with a reception ended.
Brady threw only one incompletion during a 70-yard drive on New England’s first possession that ended with his 19-yard TD throw to Gronkowski, a rookie who played in Pittsburgh high school.
New England started the second half with a nearly-identical 78-yard drive that Brady finished off with a 9-yard throw to Gronkowski, making it 17-3 and silencing a partisan crowd of 64,359.
Brady, who has averaged 373 yards in his last three starts against Pittsburgh, found Gronkowski for a third time on a 25-yarder that upped it to 36-18 and emptied out whatever fans hadn’t already left.
James Sanders effectively ended it with a 32-yard touchdown return of an interception with 81/2 minutes remaining on a throw by Ben Roethlisberger that was tipped by Patrick Chung – though there were three more touchdowns, two by Pittsburgh.
Patriots 39, Steelers 26
NE—Gronkowski 19 pass from Brady (Graham kick)
NE—FG Graham 31
Pit—FG Reed 22
NE—Gronkowski 9 pass from Brady (Graham kick)
NE—Brady 3 run (kick failed)
Pit—Sanders 6 pass from Roethlisberger (Reed kick)
NE—Sanders 32 interception return (pass failed)
Pit—Wallace 15 pass from Roethlisberger (Moore run)
NE—Gronkowski 25 pass from Brady (Graham kick)
Pit—Wallace 33 pass from Roethlisberger (Moore run)
NE—FG Graham 36
|Total Net Yards||453||425|
|Time of Poss.||31:28||28:32|
RUSHING—New England, Green-Ellis 18-87, Woodhead 4-11, Brady 1-3, Morris 1-2. Pittsburgh, Mendenhall 11-50, Moore 4-14, Roethlisberger 1-12.
PASSING—New England, Brady 30-43-0-350. Pittsburgh, Roethlisberger 30-49-1-387.
RECEIVING—New England, Welker 8-89, Branch 7-71, Gronkowski 5-72, Green-Ellis 4-36, Tate 2-50, Woodhead 2-22, Morris 1-6, Crumpler 1-4. Pittsburgh, Wallace 8-136, Moore 5-79, Randle El 5-66, Miller 5-60, Sanders 5-41, Mendenhall 2-5.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Pittsburgh, Reed 26 (WR).