4:25 PM ET, November 3, 2013
Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
The Pittsburgh Steelers, on the other hand, definitely need some improvement.
Brady and the Patriots look to show some consistency and remain unbeaten at home by capitalizing on a meeting with the sputtering Steelers on Sunday.
New England (6-2) leads the second-place New York Jets by two games in the division, despite some uncharacteristically lowly numbers from Brady.
The future Hall of Famer is completing 55.7 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns, six interceptions and a 74.9 passer rating -- 20.7 below his career mark.
He was even worse while the Patriots split their last four games, converting 52.3 percent of his attempts for 810 yards with two TDs, four picks and a 61.6 rating.
"We're trying," Brady said. "There are a lot of things we can do better."
Getting off to a stronger start is surely one of them. The Patriots rebounded from an atrocious first half last week, scoring 17 points in the third quarter to rally for a 27-17 victory over Miami that improved them to 4-0 at home.
Brady was one of the main culprits during the slow start, connecting on 6 of 8 passes for 25 yards with an INT while the offense totaled 59 yards.
Still, the Steelers (2-5) aren't getting caught up in Brady's unusually meager statistics.
"You can pick apart his numbers, but the only one that matters is 6-2," safety Ryan Clark said. "When you give Tom Brady a chance to win a football game, he's going to do it."
He's certainly done that against Pittsburgh, tossing 16 touchdowns with three interceptions while winning six of eight meetings, including both in the postseason. He's also won both matchups at Gillette Stadium, but the most recent came back on Dec. 9, 2007.
Protecting Brady, who's been sacked 23 times already -- four fewer than all of last season -- falls to an offensive line that will be without Sebastian Vollmer.
The right tackle was lost for the season with a right leg injury last week and is expected to be replaced by Marcus Cannon, who has started only one of 31 career games over three seasons.
The Steelers, though, have managed just 10 sacks, one more than league-worst Chicago. However, their defense ranks fourth in the NFL, yielding an average of 302.9 yards, including 181.0 through the air.
"They have a good defense and the way we've been playing offensively, we can't be up and down like we've been," Brady said. "We have to be more consistent. Hopefully this is our best week to be able to do that."
Pittsburgh is also looking to bounce back after following a pair of wins with a 21-18 loss at Oakland last week. Coach Mike Tomlin isn't dwelling on the performance, which included 276 yards of offense and only 35 rushing.
"Our record is our record," Tomlin said. "There's nothing that we can do about what has been played."
Like the Patriots last week, the Steelers have been victimized by slow starts. They've been outscored 54-19 in the first quarter after trailing 15-0 versus the Raiders.
Pittsburgh, trying to climb out of the AFC North basement, is tied for 27th in the league in scoring, averaging 17.9 points.
"The starts of games don't determine the outcomes of games," Tomlin said. "We need to keep that in mind as we prepare, too. I don't want to get lulled into a sense of comfort if we should go up to New England and come out and have a successful start. We've got to play football for 60 minutes and winning football."
Ben Roethlisberger will try to rebound from perhaps his worst performance of the season. He completed 29 of 45 passes for 275 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions for a season-low 70.1 rating.
His seven picks are just one shy of his total from last season, and he's facing a Patriots defense that has seven of its 10 INTs at home. The unit is fifth in the league with 215.5 passing yards allowed per contest, but 31st against the run (130.8).
That could mean a big day for rookie Le'Veon Bell, who mustered 24 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries last week.
The Steelers won their last road meeting with New England on Nov. 30, 2008, but the Patriots have gone 34-3 at home during the regular season since that loss.
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New England Patriots
|Avg Points Allowed||26.0||19.4|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||PIT|
|Rush Yds Allowed||PIT|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|New England leads 7-3|
|Oct 30, 2011||PIT 25, NE 17|
|Nov 14, 2010||PIT 26, NE 39|
|Nov 30, 2008||PIT 33, @NE 10|
|Dec 9, 2007||PIT 13, @NE 34|
|Sep 25, 2005||PIT 20, NE 23|
|Jan 23, 2005||PIT 27, NE 41|
|Oct 31, 2004||PIT 34, NE 20|
|Sep 9, 2002||PIT 14, @NE 30|
|Jan 27, 2002||PIT 17, NE 24|
Without Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez working out of the slot, Tom Brady has struggled connecting with slot receivers this season. Brady has one touchdown and four interceptions targeting slot receivers this season.[+]
Tom Brady Targeting Slot Receivers - Last 4 Seasons
From Elias: The Patriots become the 3rd team in NFL history to have 3 players with 120 receiving yards and a TD in the same game... it had happened once before this season:[+]
The Patriots defense has allowed more than 130 rush yards in all four games since losing run defense anchor Vince Wilfork, the longest active streak in the league. Only Jacksonville has allowed more rush yards than New England over the last four weeks, a weakness the Patriots addressed by trading for defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga on Tuesday. When Sopoaga was on the field, his team's 3.4 yards per rush average would have ranked as the best in the league from 2008-13 as a stand-alone total. Without Sopoaga, his defense's 4.1 yards per rush average would have ranked 10th in that span.[+]
49ers/Eagles Rush Defense With/Without Isaac Sopoaga, 2008-13
Ben Roethlisberger completed 25-of-40 passes for 362 yards and three touchdowns against four or fewer rushers on Sunday. However, Roethlisberger struggled against extra pass rushers, continuing a season-long trend. Roethlisberger entered Sunday with a 67.4 Total QBR against four or fewer rushers, 14th among qualified quarterbacks, but his 16.6 Total QBR against added pressure ranked last.[+]
Ben Roethlisberger Passing by Rushers, Sunday
From Elias: Patriots/Steelers game today was the 5th game in NFL history during which both QBs had 400 yards and 4 TD. The home QB has won each game:[+]
Stevan Ridley equaled or set season highs with 29 touches for 124 yards, two touchdowns and nine first downs against the Steelers. Ridley averaged 64.3 yards on 14 touches per game this season entering Sunday. Ridley now has six touchdowns in his last four games after failing to score in his first five.
Tom Brady has thrown three touchdowns in a game for the first time since Week 14 last season against the Texans, when he threw four touchdown passes in a 42-14 win. This snaps a streak of 11 straight games for Brady without throwing three touchdowns, the second-longest streak of his career (longest was 12 games in 2004).
Tom Brady completed 9-of-14 passes at least 15 yards downfield for 306 yards and four touchdowns. Brady completed both of his throws deeper than 30 yards downfield after entering Sunday having completed 2-of-12 throws at that distance. - Brady was 4-of-4 for 96 yards and a touchdown targeting Rob Gronkowski at least 15 yards downfield. Brady had connected with Gronk on 2-of-7 attempts this season entering Sunday.[+]
Tom Brady Passing At Least 15 Yds Downfield
The Patriots became the third team in NFL history to finish with a 400-yard passer, three 100-yard receivers and a 100-yard rusher.[+]
400-Yard Passer, 100-Yard Rusher, 3 100-Yard Receivers - Single Game In NFL History
Ben Roethlisberger threw his 200th career Pass TD in the 2nd quarter. He is one of 7 active QB with at least 200 career Pass TD, joining Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Matt Hasselbeck. Four of those 7 QB were drafted in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. Roethlisberger is the 2nd quarterback in Steelers history to reach 200 Pass TD, putting him 12 shy of tying Terry Bradshaw's franchise record.
The Patriots won big yesterday against the Steelers and it should come as no surprise. Since 2010, the Patriots are 24-3 in Weeks 9-17 of the NFL season (including yesterday).
Tom Brady posted season-highs Sunday with a 97.7 Total QBR, 4 passing touchdowns and 432 passing yards. He had a huge game after 2 passing touchdowns in his previous 4 games, and an overall slow start to the season.[+]
Tom Brady Passing This Season
ESPN Stats & Information