x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Steelers can't catch Tom Brady

Not many quarterbacks beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh, but the New England Patriots quarterback embarrasses them.

Tom Brady throws through Pittsburgh coverage.
Tom Brady throws through Pittsburgh coverage.

Not many quarterbacks beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh. They have more home wins than any other team in the league.

But Tom Brady not only beats them, he embarrasses them. The New England quarterback has won six of seven against the Steelers and four of five at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

He did it again on Sunday night, throwing three touchdown passes to Rob Gronkowski, the tight end, and scoring once himself to lead the Patriots to a 39-26 victory.

Brady completed 30 of 43 passes for 350 yards with no sacks or interceptions, and now has 14 career touchdown passes against the Steelers.

"We made big plays when we needed to make them," Brady said. "It's an exciting game for us in this locker room. We haven't been this happy in a long time. We're pretty good when we execute the right way."

Pittsburgh's normally dominating defence was shredded by Brady during their second home-field loss this season.

"They beat us in all phases," Mike Tomlin, the Steelers coach, said.

Pittsburgh played most of the game without Hines Ward (concussion), the wide receiver, whose streak of 186 consecutive games with a reception ended.

"I wanted to go back in, but they wouldn't let me," Ward said.

Brady threw only one incomplete pass during a 70-yard drive on New England's first possession that ended with his 19-yard touchdown throw to Gronkowski, a rookie who played his high school senior season in Pittsburgh.

New England started the second half with a near-identical 78-yard drive that Brady finished off with a nine-yard throw to Gronkowski, making it 17-3 and silencing a partisan crowd of 64,359 that rarely sees a rival quarterback being so effective and efficient.

Except Brady, of course.

"You can't get into a hole like that against a team that good and a quarterback that good," Mike Wallace, the Steelers receiver, said.

As good as ever against Pittsburgh, Brady was more emotional than usual - screaming during huddles, yelling at linesmen for penalties - perhaps reflecting his unhappiness at losing 34-14 the week before at Cleveland.

"That's the NFL," Bill Belichick, the coach, said. "If you knew what was going to happen in this league [from week to week], you'd make a lot of money."

Brady, who has averaged 373 yards in his past 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 not already left.

"I don't think they did anything to confuse us, that we didn't expect," Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers quarterback, said. "They flat out beat us."

Brady methodically led drive after drive by throwing underneath Pittsburgh's two-deep zone defence. The quick throws confused the Steelers' defence and negated Pittsburgh's oft-successful blitzing schemes.

When it comes to winning, the Patriots and Steelers are the pinnacles of the NFL. The Patriots' .632 winning percentage since free agency began in 1993 is the NFL's best, and the Steelers are second at .627.

Brady's .767 winning percentage coming into the game led all quarterbacks, and Roethlisberger's .700 was second.