QB Brady to the rescue

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:51 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- In his ascent to the throne as the NFL's most efficient big-drive quarterback, Tom Brady has made it his mantra to be seen rather than heard.

But this time, the New England Patriots leader couldn't keep it in. Not after a sensational fourth quarter in front of a hostile, terrible-towel waving crowd at Heinz Field.

He had heard all the talk that the Patriots dynasty was in its dying days and with the game tied at 20-20, slipping to a worrisome 1-2 record was just that close.

And then Brady did what he does best in the league today.

With 1:21 remaining, he marched the team downfield to set up a 43-yard winning field goal, which for Pats kicker Adam Vinatieri is gimme range. To Brady, there was no sweeter sound than the silence of 64,868 who had just seen their team's regular-season win streak snapped at 16.

"Oh they hate us here, man they hate us," Brady screamed as he charged into the locker room following the 23-20 win.

"And I love it."

After a tediously forgettable first half, it was vintage Brady who provided the drama in a memorable fourth period.

Not only did he set up the winner with one second remaining, he had led drives resulting in a seven-yard Corey Dillon score and another Vinatieri three-pointer from 35 yards.

Made vulnerable at times by the hard-hitting Steelers, New England survived some sloppy play -- including two first-half turnovers inside the opposition 10-yard line. They survived injuries to starting offensive lineman Matt Light and the new heart of the defence, Rodney Harrison.

LATE RALLY

And they even survived a late rally led by Pittsburgh hero Ben Roethlisberger, whose touchdown pass to Hines Ward tied it with a little too much time on the clock.

As he has been in leading his team to three Super Bowl wins in the past four seasons, Brady has become video highlight on demand. After an effort in which he completed 31 of 41 attempts for 372 yards was done, the hate was on at Heinz.

"I just love that guy, I wish he didn't have a girlfriend," tight end Christian Fauria said. "There's no other guy you can rely on like that when you're in that position.

"After having a really tough week, we just knew this was going to be our challenge. Do we have it or do we not have it. We just dug in."

The signs that the Patriots dynasty may be nearing its end were all around Heinz Field yesterday. Steelers fans showed their belief in the demise, taking extra delight in seeing the two-time defending champs struggle early.

And when is the last time you've heard of a two-time defending Super Bowl champions being three-point underdogs?

But when Harrison went out, a patchwork defence that already had withstood the departure of linebackers Ted Bruschi and Ted Johnson prior to the season dug in.

And rather than bowing to the well-regarded Steelers offensive line, the defence went right at Roethlisberger. In their own version of Blitzburgh, the Patriots stormed through, sacking him four times for losses of 26 yards while letting him complete just 12 of 28 attempts.

In the end, Big Ben was a bust, especially compared to the man named Brady.

"They are the world champions," Steelers linebacker James Farrior said. "And they didn't get that way for nothing."


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