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Pats beat Steelers in Divisional mismatch

Foxboro, Jan. 5, 1997 – The New England offense jumped out to an early lead while the defense was able to shut down the Steelers, allowing the Patriots to run away with a convincing 28-3 victory in an AFC divisional playoff game at Foxboro Stadium. The win – New England's first home playoff victory in franchise history – catapulted the Patriots into the AFC Championship game.

New England's Curtis Martin set a New England postseason record in the first half alone, rushing 109 yards on 10 carries and two touchdowns. Overall, in his first playoff game at any level, Martin matched his career best by running for 166 yards on 19 carries (an 8.7-yard average). New England rushed for 194 yards on 32 carries (6.1-yard average) against Pittsburgh's second-ranked defense.

New England quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who completed a solid 14 of 24 pass attempts for 164 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, torched the Steelers in the first quarter when the Pats took a quick 14-0 lead. During New England's first-quarter blitzkrieg, Bledsoe completed seven of his first seven pass attempts for 123 yards and one touchdown. By game's end, the unsung Patriots had out gained the Steelers, 346 yards 213.

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