How Do the Steelers Win? Keep Being the Steelers

Atlanta Falcons guard Andy Levitre in a action during the NFL game between the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After a week of talking about a Facebook Live video and analyzing press conferences, the game is finally here.

It is time to get ready for the New England Patriots facing off against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game on Sunday. Look for QB Tom Brady and WR Julian Edelman - and possibly WR Chris Hogan, assuming he's healthy - to try to connect downfield early in hopes of getting the crowd into the game and forcing the Steelers to play from behind, something they really haven't had to do in their two playoff wins. Him having a good game - say, 25 rushes, 140 yards - would be a big help for Roethlisberger throwing the ball to another MVP candidate, Antonio Brown, for big plays, even touchdowns. "It's a challenge. I've just got to be ready". We've got to all do whatever it takes to be at our best for those three hours on Sunday night. The Patriots can't afford to put the ball on the ground and risk a turnover against a Pittsburgh team extremely capable of making them pay. In fact, since 2001 when future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady took the reigns of the Patriots' offense, New England has won nine of 12 matchups.

Butler understands the Patriots secondary didn't get Pittsburgh's best passing-game punch.

New England fans would like nothing better than to see commissioner Roger Goodell (surprise - he'll go to Packers-Steelers) award another Super Bowl MVP to Brady in the wake of all the "Deflategate" bitterness and four-game suspension to start the season. Kickoff time is scheduled for 6:40 p.m.

He has spoken often about his respect for the Patriots and Tom Brady, which included a request for a jersey from Brady before Pittsburgh's loss to New England in October. Three years later, the Patriots beat the then-rookie Roethlisberger, 41-27, to head to Super Bowl XXXIX. Big Ben has thrown 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions during his team's nine-game winning streak, but the Steelers' defense has been unreal. Houston also had two interceptions.

"This is why you play the game".

If there's any hint to what the Patriots' strategy might be this week, it's that there has been a ton of film study on Bell and the damage he can do to any defense.

RED MEANS STOP: Pittsburgh's high-octane offense ran into some serious hiccups in the divisional round against Kansas City. Yes, football is a team sport, but nearly all of the time (aside from a couple historically good defensive teams) it's going to come down to quarterback play. When you factor in the regular season, the Patriots are 4-1 at home against the Steelers, with an average score of 31.4-22.4. Bell has been a monster the second half of the season, rushing for over 100 yards in seven of his last eight games, including 170 and 167, respectively, in two playoff games. Bell is a lot harder to contain than Blount, as the Steelers' back has a patient running style that allows him to find the hole. And entering Sunday's game, it's crystal clear that the Patriots have their hands full against Bell. The resurgent Tech City represented by the Men of Steel, the chance for a new and different sort of Steelers team to represent the former Steel City, to make a black-and-gold football glow to burnish the changing region as it rises in success with the technology and energy industries.



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