FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady looked into the end zone and found his favorite receiver. Rob Gronkowski caught the ball, then slammed it to the ground.
The familiar spike was back after the star tight end's first touchdown of an injury-delayed season.
So was the Patriots offense.
Brady shook off the inconsistency of his first eight games and threw for season highs of 432 yards and four touchdowns Sunday as New England defeated Pittsburgh 55-31.
"You throw it, they catch it, they run with it," he said. "It makes a good day for a quarterback."
It was a good day for the whole offense.
The 55 points were the most in an NFL game this season and the most ever against the Steelers. New England gained 610 yards, also the most ever allowed by Pittsburgh.
"We are going to comb through this with a fine tooth comb," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said, "and those people who are lacking effort won't be playing. It's just that simple."
Brady had 252 yards passing in the first half, more than in five of his other eight games. And 119 of those came on seven catches by Gronkowski in his third game since offseason surgeries on his left forearm and back. He finished with a career-high nine catches for 143 yards.
He caught his 19-yard touchdown with 4:30 gone in the second quarter for a 14-0 lead.
"It felt great out there," Gronkowski said. "It was important for us to play this way. Until now, we hadn't been clicking for all four quarters."
Two other Patriots had more than 100 yards receiving and a score: Aaron Dobson (130 yards) and Danny Amendola (122).
New England became the third team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger with 55 points and 600 yards of offense in a game, joining the 2000 Rams and 2009 Patriots.
The Steelers wasted a solid performance by Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for 400 yards and four touchdowns. Trailing 24-10, the Steelers tied it on their first two series of the third quarter on Roethlisberger's touchdowns to Jerricho Cotchery of 20 and 8 yards.