Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/3/13
FOXBORO, Mass. – Tom Brady was wise to go to Rob Gronkowski early and often. And that’s not just for the obvious reason: that Gronkowski finally appears to be fully healthy. In proving that the tight end was a force to be reckoned with, that opened up the rest of the field for the Patriots’ other receivers. Gronk’s dominant start — he had seven receptions for 119 yards in the first half — allowed Danny Amendola to go off for four catches and 122 yards. It allowed Aaron Dobson to get five receptions for 130 yards. It even allowed Stevan Ridley to carry the ball 26 times for 115 yards. There are plenty of reasons why the Patriots’ offense was finally able to turn the corner and flash a dominant performance. The Steelers’ poor play certainly played a role, but Gronkowski’s dominance was probably the biggest factor. “When he’s healthy and on the field, he’s tough to stop,” Brady said about Gronkowski. “He’s a great run blocker and what he does for us in the passing game, it’s tough to match up. And if the attention goes to Gronk with extra coverage, it opens it up for all the other guys. He’s a big presence on our team and when he’s out there for every snap it’s going to be even better.” Even after the Patriots looked good in Atlanta against the Falcons, there wasn’t a prove-it performance in the first eight weeks of the season. The Patriots finally proved it. Brady’s 432 yards, 70-percent completion percentage and four touchdowns were an oasis among a brutal start to the season. Brady entered the game with a 55.7-percent completion percentage, 74.9 quarterback rating, 5.94 yards per attempt and nine touchdowns to six interception. Those numbers are middling for any quarterback and downright awful for a player of Brady’s caliber. But as Brady and Belichick have said many times, it’s not about statistics. The Patriots are heading into the bye week and Carolina with a 7-2 record. And even if most of those wins can be chalked up to the defense, there’s finally hope for Brady and the offense. “I think there were some elements of our game that we’re starting to show,” Brady said. “When Gronk plays like that and can produce like that and Danny does that and Aaron does that and the backs do that and the line blocks, it’s a good way to play football. There were a lot of guys that played really well and that’s what it’s going take, I think, as the season goes. We have to keep getting better. It’s been a process for us, but at the bye week, 7-2 is not bad. Hopefully our best football is ahead of us.” While it seemed like nothing was clicking through eight weeks, all of a sudden everything clicked. And now New England is getting Shane Vereen back against the Panthers. So Brady already increased his completion percentage to 57.1 on the season. Once his dependable third-down option comes back, that number could shoot back up to his typical percentage in the 60s. There were weeks when the Patriots had barely any weapons on offense. Julian Edelman and Kenbrell Thompkins had to step up while Gronkowski, Amendola and Vereen were out. Now, the team is accumulating so many weapons that Thompkins, the star of the Saints game, was inactive on Sunday. Gronkowski and Amendola can only get better as their health improves. And it seems like Dobson is getting exponentially better every week. It’s easy to overreact after a win like this, and the Steelers certainly aren’t the best team in the league — far from it, in fact. But they were allowing just 181 passing yards per game previous to this game. And New England downright torched them. It was only a matter of time before the offense improved. It seems like Week 9 was the week it finally happened. Have a question for Doug Kyed? Send it to him via Twitter at @DougKyedNESN or send it here.Filed under: Doug Kyed, New England Patriots
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Sheldon Richardson escapes felony charges for recent arrest

Lawyer who litigated against NFL: Brady plays every game

Cowboys should sign interested RB Steven Jackson

Jameis Winston confirmed as Buccaneers starting QB

Russell Wilson contract increases likelihood of change

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jim Harbaugh doesn’t care if he’s popular

Johnny Manziel struggles in first day of Browns camp

Report: Wilson, Seahawks agree to four-year, $86.7M contract

Report: Former Jets exec leaked false Deflategate info to ESPN

Belichick on sticking it to NFL: 'Really not very important to me'

Yankees, Astros reportedly both pursuing Craig Kimbrel

Stop kvetching about Notre Dame, please

Rebuttal banner supporting Tom Brady flies over Pats practice

Ranking the NFL’s 32 head coaches

LeSean McCoy cancels party, but it wasn't some 'weird orgy'

Redskins making huge mistake by signing Junior Galette

New Blue Jay David Price got a flat tire on his way to Toronto

Five of the worst baseball trades since 2000

Famed ballboy Red Lightning spotted at Falcons camp

Rickie Fowler aces final hole, treats media to free beers

SEC remains college football's best conference

The Rock 'pretty disappointed,' but defends Hulk Hogan

Urban Meyer will make us wait on OSU's starting QB decision

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Ranking the NFL’s 32 head coaches

Five worst baseball trades since 2000

Examining the state of the NFL

Puig: Broke out of slump by playing baseball video games

Braves dump risk, exchange it for risk

David Price traded to Blue Jays

The indefensible Hulk Hogan

Cole Hamels chose Rangers over Astros

Can Preller fix the mess in San Diego?

Next summer's top 10 NBA free agents

Who is the NL's new top shortstop?

Cardinals HC Bruce Arians calls Jen Welter a 'trailblazer'

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker