Turns out, all Tom Brady needed was to face one of the league's worst defenses. A week ago, he was coming off one of his worst efforts in an already forgettable season and all anyone could talk about was a swollen throwing hand and how it was clearly affecting his game.
Then the Steelers rolled into town and Brady was transported back to 2007. By the time it was over, the Patriots had scored 55 points to the Steelers' 31 and it wasn't even that close. Never mind that those 55 points were the most allowed by a Pittsburgh team ever, the bigger story is that Brady was, well, Brady.
The future Hall of Famer threw for 432 yards and four touchdowns, including two scores to rookie Aaron Dobson and one each to Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski.
For some perspective of just what happened in Gillette Stadium on Sunday afternoon, consider this: On three occasions this season Brady completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes, and four times this season, the team didn't surpass 300 yards in total offense. Against Pittsburgh, Brady had one of the best games of his career and the Pats racked up a mind-boggling 610 yards, including 197 yards on the ground.
This isn't the biggest win of the season for the Pats -- that honor still belongs to the Saints -- but it's easily the offense's best performance. And that's bad news for the rest of the AFC East, which probably thought New England was on the ropes after last week's punchless effort against the Dolphins.
Instead, the Pats move to 7-2 and the Jets and Dolphins -- both winners this week -- are left wondering what they have to do to make up ground in the division.
As it stands, New York (5-4) is two games back and Miami (4-4) is 2.5 back.
New England has a tough three-game stretch upcoming: at Carolina, at home against the Broncos and then at the Texans. But if Sunday's effort is any indication of how the second half of the season will unfold, the Pats have little to worry about.