Can Patriots Continue Their Mastery Over the Steelers?
By Julie Voigt and Russell S. Baxter (VIBE)
Special to Pro Football Guru
A rivalry is defined as competition for the same objective. For superiority in the same field.
The New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers have a couple of things in common. One, they both need to bounce back from a couple of last second heartbreaking losses last weekend. Second, they are both in need of a win in terms of securing their playoff future this year.
Mike Tomlin’s club still owns only a half-game lead in the AFC North over the 7-6 Baltimore Ravens. But the 6-7-1 Cleveland Browns are closing fast. And the Steelers are in the midst of a three-game losing streak. Meanwhile, it’s safe to say that this has been a one-sided series since 2001.
This one should come down to which team can make the big defensive play. The Steelers (367) and Patriots (364) have scored nearly the same amount of points. But neither defensive unit scares a lot of people these days.
Either way, this should be a nail biter. But of course, all rivalries are.
Including playoffs, the Patriots have won the last five games vs, the Steelers. With a victory on Sunday, they could clinch a record 10th straight NFL playoff berth.
When comparing both quarterbacks, Roethlisberger takes the lead with a 67 completion percentage, good for 4,227 yards and 28 scores. Brady has connected on 65.6 percent of his throws for 3,700 yards and 23 touchdowns. But while the Patriots’ signal-caller has been picked off only eight times, Big Ben is tied for second in the league with 13 interceptions.
Brady’s all-time record as a starter vs. the Steelers is 11-2. That’s 8-2 in the regular season and 3-0 in the postseason. And that includes a 6-2 mark at Heinz Field dating back to ‘01. It’s safe to say Tomlin’s team has a lot of history to overcome on Sunday.
It hasn't mattered the head coach. Be it Bill Cowher or Mike Tomlin. And it seemingly hasn't mattered who was the defensive coordinator was as either as in Tim Lewis, Dick LeBeau and, currently, Keith Butler. Simply put, Tom Brady has mastered whatever the Pittsburgh Steelers have done on defense and he’s done it for an awfully long time.
The numbers are simply overwhelming. Forget the aforementioned career win-loss number as a starter for a moment. In 13 games vs. the Black and Gold, he’s thrown for 3,830 yards, 30 touchdown passes and been picked off only four times. In eight meetings vs. Tomlin’s Steelers dating back to 2007, there has been 23 TD passes and one pick.
But one to prevent Brady from going out and doing his thing against the Pittsburgh defense is to keep that unit off the field. And the Steelers must get back to that balanced offensive attack that they were featuring in their first nine games of the season. As we saw last week at Miami, the Patriots’ defense is highly susceptible to the run.
Keeping Brady on the sidelines is the best way for the Steelers to prevent he and his team from winning a sixth consecutive game in this series.
Julie Voigt (@JulieNoted_NFL) and Russell S. Baxter (@BaxFootballGuru) are the co-founders of @NFL_VIBE. Julie is also the Colts’ reporter for OurTurf Football while Russell writes for FanSided and NFL Spin Zone.