PITTSBURGH — Their momentum gone and the Steelers surging behind backup quarterback Landry Jones, the Patriots needed something to get them going. They found inspiration in the usual places: LeGarrette Blount's churning legs, Tom Brady's accurate right arm and Rob Gronkowski's massive hands.
Twice, undermanned Pittsburgh needed one stop to give its offense the ball with a chance to take the lead. And twice New England instead went right down the field, pulling away for a win that left little doubt as to where the balance of power in the AFC sits.
The Steelers were within 14-13 when Blount broke runs of 11 and 25 yards to set up a 36-yard touchdown from Brady to Gronkowski early in the third quarter. When another field goal brought Pittsburgh within four, the Patriots responded with another long touchdown drive fueled by a 37-yard catch-and-run by Gronkowski that set up Blount's second touchdown.
"It was good to score like that and good to make plays in the second half that we needed to," Brady said.
Pittsburgh scored one touchdown in four trips to the red zone and was flagged 10 times for 85 yards.
"You can't waste red zone trips, you have to come off blocks and make tackles in the run game, you can't give up explosion plays, we did," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "That's why we lost."