FOXBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — The New England Patriots have reached the Super Bowl for an NFL-record ninth time.
The team punched their ticket to Houston Sunday night with a 36-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium.
Of those nine appearances, seven were under Bill Belichick, the most all-time for a head coach.
“We had a good team effort,” Belichick said after the game. “All three units and both sides of the ball.”
Pittsburgh had a hard time stopping Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense. Brady broke his own record for most passing yards in a playoff game with 384, completing 32 of 42 passes for three touchdowns.
Two of those touchdowns were reeled in by WR Chris Hogan, who ended the game with 180 yards, also a single-game postseason record for the franchise.
RB LeGarrette Blount and WR Julian Edelman also reached the end zone in the game.
Stephen Gostkowski added three field goals, passing Adam Vinatieri for the most all time in the postseason for the Patriots.
The Steelers were able to move the ball, racking up 368 yards on offense, but had trouble putting points on the board. Twice New England was able to stop them deep in the red zone.
A noticeable absence was Pittsburgh RB Le’Veon Bell, who left the game with a groin injury in the first quarter. He ended the game with just 20 yards on six touches.
His backup, DeAngelo Williams, helped the Steelers close the gap in the second quarter by punching in a touchdown, though he was held to just 34 yards on 14 carries.
Roethlisberger completed 31 of 47 passes for 314 yards and a touchdown. He was also intercepted by CB Eric Rowe in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots will now head to Houston to take on the Atlanta Falcons, who dispatched of the Green Bay Packers by a score of 44-21.
New England and Pittsburgh have a combined 29 AFC title game appearances, 17 conference titles, and 10 Super Bowl wins. The Patriots were last in the big game when they defeated the Seattle Seahawks in 2014 and the Steelers were defeated by the Green Bay Packers in their latest appearance in 2010.
When the two storied franchises met in Week 7, New England came out on top 27-16 behind Blount’s 127 yards and two touchdowns. Roethlisberger missed that game, having just underwent surgery to his meniscus.