FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Tom Brady redemption tour is headed to the Super Bowl.

After beginning the 2016 season suspended for four games, the New England quarterback relentlessly carried the Patriots to an unprecedented ninth appearance in the Super Bowl, 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 seventh consecutive AFC championship game.

The Patriots are early 3-point favorites against the Atlanta Falcons, who will try to prevent New England from winning its 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.

Since Brady’s return from his suspension in Week 5, New England’s only defeat came at home against Seattle, and Brady, 39, had one of the best seasons of a Hall of Fame-caliber career. His latest masterpiece came in dreary weather similar to the conference title game against the Colts two years ago, as he flattened Pittsburgh’s secondary.

“This is my motivation right here, all these fellas in front of me, these guys,” Brady said, pointing to his teammates. “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. He caught nine passes for 180 yards and two scores.

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 postseason game, extending his NFL record, completing 32 of 42 throws.

“We won a lot of different ways under a lot of different circumstances,” Brady said. “Mental toughness is what it is all about and this team has got it. We’ll see if we can write the perfect ending.”

The ending for Pittsburgh was anything but perfect. The Steelers 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 the game.

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. The reality is we didn’t make enough plays in any of the three phases. The game kind of unfolded in the way they would like it to as opposed to the way we would like it to, not only in score, but in style of play and so forth. We didn’t get a lot accomplished tonight.”

Hogan’s second touchdown came on a flea-flicker and he easily beat safety Mike Mitchell to the corner of the end zone. At that point, Hogan had seven catches for 117 yards and the first multi-touchdown game of his four-year career.

His first touchdown made it 10-0. He was all alone in the back of the end zone for the 16-yard score.

Pittsburgh had drawn to within 10-6 on DeAngelo Williams’ 5-yard run to cap an 84-yard drive.

Williams also contributed on a 70-yard drive toward the end of the second quarter that appeared to be capped by a Jesse James TD reception. But video review showed James was down at the 1, and the Steelers couldn’t get into the end zone, settling instead for a 23-yard field goal by Chris Boswell.

The Steelers never threatened to get back into it. LeGarrette Blount punctuated the romp with a bruising 18-yard run on which he carried nearly the entire Pittsburgh defense with him, followed by a 1-yard touchdown run.

Soon after, tight end Martellus Bennett was boogeying with the cheerleaders, pompoms in hand, and owner Robert Kraft was accepting the Lamar Hunt Trophy.

“For a number of reasons, all of you in this stadium understand how big this win was,” Kraft said. “And we have to go to Houston and win one more.”