PITTSBURGH — Steve Grogan, starring in place of the injured Tony Eason for the second week in a row, threw for 243 yards and 3 touchdowns as the New England Patriots punished the Pittsburgh Steelers, 34-0, Sunday.
Grogan, who completed 18 of 26 passes, passed for 2 touchdowns and New England led 24-0 before Pittsburgh managed a first down.
"We usually run the ball first to set up the pass, but today we came out throwing and it worked out great," Grogan said.
The victory enabled the Patriots (4-3) to move within 1 1/2 games of the AFC East-leading New York Jets (5-1), who play Denver tonight.
The Steelers, 0-3 at home, fell to 1-6, their worst start since they went 1-13 in 1969, Chuck Noll's first season as coach. The defeat was their worst since moving to Three Rivers Stadium in 1970.
Pittsburgh rookie quarterback Bubby Brister, starting for the second week in a row in place of Mark Malone, completed only 9 of 27 passes for 100 yards and was intercepted twice on his first three throws. Malone sprained his thumb two weeks ago against Cleveland.
In his first two games, Brister has completed 21 of 60 passes for 291 yards. In his two starts this season, Grogan, a 12-year veteran, is 41 of 68 for 644 yards.
Eason didn't play because of sore ribs.