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Steelers notebook: Speedy Patriots on pace to chase history

| Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, 5:45 p.m.

The Steelers might need to go into a hurry-up defense Sunday at New England.

The Patriots' 1,191 plays in 2012 were only eight fewer than the most ever run in the NFL (by the 1994 Patriots).

Halfway through their season, they've run off 562 plays, putting them on nearly the same pace. The Broncos have a league-high 581 plays.

“New England gets it off as quickly as anyone I've ever seen,” Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. “When you look up there on the clock, a lot of time is there — 26, 28 or 30 seconds. They are moving pretty fast.”

Slow starter

Still not up to speed is Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady's preferred target. He is wearing a cumbersome brace on the left arm he broke twice last season and, two games after returning, still appears to be struggling physically.

He has caught passes on only 10 of 22 targets, including two passes for 27 yards on five targets last week against Miami. He had eight catches for 114 yards, on 17 targets, against the Jets on Oct. 20.

Asked if he's healthy, he said, simply, “Yes.”

Criticism misdirected

Steelers safety Ryan Clark wondered what all the fuss was about when Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant was criticized for a sideline tantrum directed at teammates during a 31-30 loss to Detroit last Sunday. Clark suggested there wouldn't be nearly the fuss if another player were involved.

“I've seen Tom Brady cuss and scream and do all kind of things, but nobody looks at him like that,” Clark said. “I just think it's unfair the way the way the media portrays certain things because of personal feelings about a person.”

Century man

Patriots coach Bill Belichick is one of only three NFL coaches to be 100 games over .500, counting regular season and playoff games. He has a 211-111 record with the Browns and Patriots. Former Colts and Dolphins coach Don Shula was 347-173-6; former Bears coach George Halas was 324-151-31.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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