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Patriots hope to use bye week to improve defense after 55-31 win over Steelers

  • d65d04402d3a1925420f6a706700467e.jpg

    New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, left, speaks to Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin after an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013, in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots won 55-31. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) (The Associated Press)

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    New England Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington, right, tackles Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (88) in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013, in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots won 55-31. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) (The Associated Press)

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    Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, left, speaks to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, right, after an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013, in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots won 55-31. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) (The Associated Press)

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    Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger passes against the New England Patriots in the third quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) (The Associated Press)

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    New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, top, can't catch a pass as Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Shamarko Thomas (29) defends in the second quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) (The Associated Press)

Scoring 55 points is a sure sign that Tom Brady and the New England offense are rolling again.

But allowing 31 points shows that that the injury-battered defense needs to get better.

Coach Bill Belichick says there's a lot of room for improvement on defense after Sunday's 55-31 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. So the Patriots' bye week comes at a good time: New England's next game is Nov. 18 at Carolina.

The Patriots (7-2) lead the AFC East by two games despite an ever-changing cast on defense. Three of their best starters, tackles Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly and linebacker Jerod Mayo, are on season-ending injured reserve. And defensive end Rob Ninkovich and safety Steve Gregory left Sunday's game with injuries.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org