Bill Belichick didn't have too rack his brain too much to solve Pittsburgh. Credit: Getty Images
How the Patriots' 55-31 win over the Steelers played out in real time Sunday:
4:25-Major League pitch by Phil Simms and Jim Nantz, “Pittsburgh can make the playoffs if they only lose two more games.” I guess that’s true, but let’s be serious here: that ain’t happening.
4:30-Steelers were moving it down the field on their first drive but Rob Ninkovich sacked Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Vellano recovered it.
4:33-Patriots go 3-and-out on their first drive, this is not a recording.
4:38-Halloween is over but the Steelers offense will definitely give you nightmares. Lynn Swann and Jerome Bettis must be rolling over in their graves (yes I know they’re not dead).
4:42-Hey no worries people, Nantz reports that Brady said his hand “feels great.” We can put that to bed.
4:43-Dr. Simms says Brady’s hand isn’t affecting him as he connects with Rob Gronkowski on a 34-yard catch and run.
4:51-After Gronk’s catch at the 1, Brandon Bolden appeared to get a 1-yard TD run but it was overturned. Stevan Ridley was stuffed for no gain on fourth down so New England turns it over on downs. What a lost season for him after he was so good in 2012.
4:54-The Steelers are a train wreck, Roethlisberger gets pressured throwing out of the end zone and Devin McCourty intercepts it at the 34.
4:55-Pats make them pay right away as Danny Amendola catches a 34-yard touchdown, his first as a Patriot. 7-0 New England.
5:04-Chandler Jones sacks Roethlisberger.
5:07-3rd and 30, LeVeon Bell gets 29 on a screen pass. Best part is the Pats defense celebrating that it was short of a first down. 7-0 New England after one quarter.
5:12-It appeared that Bell was stopped short on 4th and inches but CBS’ view of the measurement was completely unclear.
5:16-This time the Patriots got the stop on 4th down as Bell takes another carry up the middle but he’s tackled for a loss of one. Pittsburgh might have the most vanilla offense in the NFL which is saying something.
5:20-Patriots are moving it on offense, not often seen this season. 13-yard run by Ridley followed by a 17-yard catch and run by Michael Hoomanawanui.
5:21-Brady threads the needle, 19-yard TD catch by Gronk. He has six catches for 110 yards in the 1st half, not bad. Pittsburgh doesn’t have a prayer to stop him, 14-0 Patriots. With that TD, Gronk tied Randy Moss for the most TD catches from Brady in the regular season (39).
5:26-What do you know, Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Todd Haley finally opens up the playbook and Roethlisberger hits Emmanuel Sanders for a 42-yard catch. Next, Antonio Brown makes a 17-yard catch to get into the red zone.
5:29-Terrible throw by Roethlisberger who had Sanders wide open in the end zone. Shaun Suisham kicks a 30-yard field goal as Pittsburgh gets on the scoreboard, down 14-3.
5:34-Eight straight completions for Brady after a 57-yard catch by Amendola, this is the best he’s looked all season. Of course, Pittsburgh being awful has helped.
5:39-15-yard run by Bolden on a draw when it was 3rd and long gets it down to the 3 but Bill Belichick opts for the 20-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski. 17-3 Patriots with 3:51 left in the 1st half. I might have gone for it there since I don’t see Pittsburgh coming back from down three scores but then again New England’s red zone offense is a work in progress at best.
5:42-30-yard run by Jonathan Dwyer, their longest rush of the season.
5:47-Perfect throw by Roethlisberger, 27-yard TD to Antonio Brown who just ran by Alfonzo Dennard. Steelers cut it to 17-10 with 1:55 left in second quarter.
5:51-His unique style made him great but now that he doesn’t make nearly as many good plays, you realize how reckless Polamalu can be. It has to drive his coaches crazy.
5:52-Nice 3rd down conversion by Dobson who spun out of a tackle for more yards after the catch.
5:55-Gronk draws a pass interference penalty in the end zone, not sure if the Pats had any of those this season when he was sidelined.
5:56-Clinical drive by the Patriots results in a 1-yard TD run by Ridley. 24-10 Patriots with 10 seconds left in the half. 9 plays, 77 yards in 1:45.
5:58-Patriots lead Steelers 24-10 at halftime, overall a very efficient first half by New England against a beaten team.
6:15-10-yard catch by Amendola on 3rd down for a 1st down, he needs to show that he can do that consistently.
6:16-Another fumble by Ridley, drink! Polamalu forced it on a short catch.
6:19-It’s correctly ruled a fumble, his heel wasn’t out of bounds so it’s a turnover. Ridley might not see the field again in 2013.
6:21-Yikes, Ninkovich limped off the field.
6:23-20-yard touchdown catch by former Jet Jericho Cotchery cuts it to 24-17 Patriots. We’ve got a ballgame now, thanks to Ridley’s fumble.
6:27-Nice to see Belichick take a new approach by not burying Ridley after he makes a mistake. He gets the ball on the first two plays of the ensuing drive.
6:29-Big 24-yard punt return by Brown gives Pittsburgh the ball in New England territory at the 46.
6:33-25-yard run by Bell followed by a 15-yard catch by Heath Miller, gulp. Steve Gregory goes off with a hand/wrist injury.
6:37-8-yard TD catch by Cotchery, PAT ties it at 24. What is going on?
6:41-16-yard catch by Gronkowski who takes a clean but hard hit to his lower body by Ryan Clark. He limps off the field, ahh!
6:44-Beautiful 21-yard catch by Amendola puts Brady over 300 passing yards while Amendola joins Gronk with 100+ receiving yards.
6:46-Jason Worilds sacks Brady on 3rd down so New England settles for a 32-yard field goal by Gostkowski. Pats retake the lead 27-24 with 2:39 left in 3rd quarter. Time for the defense to make another play.
6:49-Felix Jones returns the kickoff to the 11, great tackle by Nate Ebner.
6:51-16-yard catch by Cotchery who’s having quite a third quarter.
6:54-Excellent 43-yard punt return by Edelman, huge play to put it at Pittsburgh’s 34. 27-24 Patriots lead after three quarters.
7:01-17-yard touchdown catch by Dobson, back shoulder throws don’t get better than that. First three touchdown game of the season for Brady, believe it or not. 34-24 Patriots who have responded well after the Steelers tied it up.
7:09-3-and-out forced by New England’s defense, punctuated by Dane Fletcher’s sack (loss of 12).
7:14-Third pass interference penalty by Pittsburgh in this game, is that bad?
7:16-Ridley goes over 100 yards rushing with a seven-yard gain.
7:18-5-yard TD run by Ridley should put this away, 41-24 Patriots with 9:16. Get ready for the onslaught of stories about how he’s gotten over his fumbling problems. Let’s pump the brakes on that a bit before he goes a few more games without coughing it up.
7:22-24-yard catch by Sanders, Roethlisberger is one of the few quarterbacks that could have completed that as he got taken down by Jones.
7:31-Third touchdown catch for Cotchery, he had many solid games vs. New England when he was on the Jets but nothing like this. His first career three touchdown performance makes it 41-31 Patriots with 6:15 left in regulation.
7:35-Somewhere Randy Moss smiles, 81-yard touchdown catch by Dobson. Third highest total passing yards for Brady in his career (432). Steelers defense is atrocious, Patriots up 48-31.
7:41-Duron Harmon is the Patriots’ new victory cigar: second week in a row he’s made a gift interception to close out a win.
7:43-Incredible 5-yard touchdown run by Blount, Patriots lead 55-31. I can’t remember the last time we had to hear the national outrage when New England runs up the score, music to our ears!
7:54-Patriots win 55-31 over the Steelers. Best fourth quarter of the season (28-7) for New England and a nice way to go into the bye week. Hopefully they’ll get Aqib Talib back in a few weeks. The schedule will get much harder as they go to Carolina for a Monday Night game then host the Broncos in a Sunday Night game. The Steelers are a dumpster fire and the Pats certainly caught them at the right time.
Follow Metro Boston sports writer Richard Slate on Twitter:@RichSlate