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Brady seeking Superbowl redemption

Associated Press logo Associated Press 22/01/2017 Barry Wilner

The Tom Brady redemption tour is headed to the Super Bowl.

After beginning the 2016 season suspended for four games for his role in the "Deflategate" scandal, the New England quarterback carried the Patriots to an unprecedented ninth appearance in the title game, and his seventh.

Brady threw for a franchise playoff-best 384 yards and three touchdowns in a 36-17 rout of the helpless Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in New England's sixth consecutive AFC championship game.

The Patriots, who have won nine in a row, are early three-point favorites heading to face Atlanta in two weeks in Houston.

They are seeking their fifth NFL title with Brady at quarterback and Bill Belichick as coach. Belichick's seventh appearance in a Super Bowl will be a record for a head coach.

Brady was banned by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell when New England (16-2) went 3-1 to open the schedule.

Since his return in week five, the only defeat came at home to Seattle, and Brady, 39, had one of the best seasons of a Hall of Fame-calibre career.

He punctuated that in dreary weather similar to the 2014 conference title game that precipitated the deflated footballs investigation by flattening Pittsburgh's secondary.

"This is my motivation right here, all these fellas in front of me, these guys," Brady said, pointing to his teammates and ignoring mentions of Deflategate. "The boys showed up to play today."

Brady's main weapon was Chris Hogan. The previously unheralded receiver found open spaces everywhere on the field against a leaky secondary. Hogan caught nine balls for 180 yards and two scores.

"It's been a long journey, but I've worked really hard to get to this point," said the product of Monmouth.

"I couldn't be happier to get to be a part of this thing, this team - this whole thing."

Top wideout Julian Edelman added eight receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown as Brady tied Joe Montana's playoff record with nine three-TD passing performances.

Brady also had his 11th 300-yard post-season game, extending his NFL record, completing 32 of 42 throws.

The ending for Pittsburgh (13-6) was anything but perfect. It lost star running back Le'Veon Bell late in the first quarter to a groin injury.

That didn't seem to matter much in a record 16th conference title match for the Steelers, who made mistakes in every facet of Sunday's game. The 19-point loss ended their nine-game winning streak

The franchise that has won the most Super Bowls, six, and the most postseason games, 36, never seemed likely to challenge in the misty rain.

"We've got to be capable of overcoming those things," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.

"Injuries and so forth are part of the game."

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