New England has had plenty of offensive issues this season, but it would be hard to know if you watched the Patriots hang 55 points on the Steelers on Sunday. For Patriots fans, the offensive outburst and win over the rival Steelers was patience paying off. For Pittsburgh fans, the historic loss was another step backwards during a rough season.
Statistically, Tom Brady had been far from his usual self this season. He wasn't putting up big numbers, didn't appear to be on the same page as his receivers and even had issues with accuracy on deep balls. Greg Knopping of Pats Pulpit wrote that not only did Brady look like his old self on Sunday, the performance may have been one of the best of his career:
So much for that terrible offense. For the entire 2013 season, New England Patriots fans have been waiting. Waiting week after week, for the return of the Patriots offense that we've all gotten to know over the last decade-plus here in New England.
The patience finally paid off, as the Patriots exploded on offense against the Steelers, pulling off a 55-31 rout over their old rivals.
The Patriots were simply unstoppable on offense today, except for a short blip in the third quarter. Tom Brady had what was easily his best game of the season, and perhaps one of the best of his career. Brady displayed absolute precision at all levels of the field. His timing was excellent, and he seemed to be on the same page as his receivers. Moreover, his deep ball was on point, which is a very positive sign considering his struggles in that area this year.
The 55 points New England racked up were the most the Steelers had every allowed in franchise history. Brady's success left Neal Coolong of Behind the Steel Curtain very concerned about the secondary, including perennial All-Pro Troy Polamalu:
Tom Brady shredded the Steelers' ill-prepared secondary, completing 23-of-33 passes for 432 yards and four touchdowns. He did not turn the ball over, and posted a passer rating of 151.8.
It may as well have been a million. The Steelers' secondary has never taken such a savage beating, and while William Gay was picked on early, often and brutally, he wasn't the only one. Strong safety Troy Polamalu, minus a forced fumble on the Patriots' first possession of the second half, played perhaps his worst game as a pro, victimized constantly by Brady on deep throws. He committed three penalties, including a shot on Gronkowski on his touchdown catch that will likely draw a fine from the league.
Coolong also noted a lack of energy and emotion, causing him to wonder if the poor play isn't at least partially caused by playing with a lack of enthusiasm:
The Steelers smash it off center Fernando Velasco's right butt cheek. Bell gets low, plows ahead, definitely close to the line to gain. The Steelers get up off the pile like it's practice; they've run short-yardage drills all day, and they're tired.
The Steelers would get the first down, but the energy displayed on the play, and throughout much of the first half, makes one wonder how competitive this group is internally. Three plays later, they get stuffed royally on a similar 4th-and-1 possession, losing a yard (could have been two), and never having had a chance to pick it up.