In two previous games against the Steelers, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski had 12 catches for 166 yards along with three touchdowns.
Impressive performances for three games, let alone two.
He added a gem in his third game against the Steelers, though - the home team of his high school alma mater. Gronkowski had nine catches for 143 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots' 55-31 win and it could have been much worse.
That's the scary part. In the 80 years of existence, the Steelers have never allowed more than 54 points. The Patriots hit 55 on a fourth-quarter touchdown, sealing the most points this franchise has ever allowed.
The game's MVP was instrumental in the Patriots overwhelming and humbling thrashing of the visiting Steelers, who never really competed. Gronkowski had seven catches, 116 yards and a touchdown at halftime, as he ran past, over, through and by five different Steelers defenders who covered him in the first 30 minutes. He would have had another 20 yards and another touchdown if not for a jersey-yank by Steelers safety Shamarko Thomas on the final drive of the half.
He not only erased any and all hope of a second-half charge by the Steelers in 2013 toward the postseason, he rejuvenated the Patriots' hopes in the AFC.
In his three career games against the Steelers, Gronkowski has 21 catches, 309 yards and four touchdowns.
Gronkowski's dominance over the Steelers is a perfect metaphor for what the Patriots have become to Pittsburgh. Their 55 points are the most allowed by a Mike Tomlin-coached Steelers team, and the most the franchise has allowed since the Steelers' 2004 AFC Championship game loss to the Patriots - they lost 41-27.
The stats won't do the game justice, short of a mild run of offensive success, pretty much the only stretch of it the team has had in the last four weeks. Ben Roethlisberger was 28-for-48 with 400 yards and four touchdowns to go along with two interceptions in a stat-padding game. He hit Jerricho Cotchery for three of those touchdowns, two of them coming when the score was tied or the Steelers were down 10.
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.
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
- Steelers Slaughtered: Everything you need to know after 55-31 loss to New England
- Steelers postgame injury report: Williams, Taylor suffer concussions
- Whether it's the players or the coaches, shellacking shows Steelers need to move in a new direction
- Steelers need to answer the count after absorbing haymaker from Patriots
- Winners and Losers from the Steelers' loss to New England in Week 9
- Vince Williams injury: rookie linebacker goes down with concussion, replaced by Stevenson Sylvester
- Marcus Gilbert injury: Steelers right tackle goes down in fourth quarter of Week 9 game vs. Patriots