The Pittsburgh Steelers have a tough task ahead of them in Week 1 on Sunday Night Football. When thinking about recent season openers, the Cleveland Browns come to mind. It was almost an annual tradition for the two AFC North foes to face off in the opening week one way or another. But in 2019 there is no “warm up” game, as many fans liked to call the game vs. the Browns. No, it is a prime time affair with the New England Patriots as they drop their sixth Super Bowl championship banner in front of their raucous home crowd.
Quite the difference, but the Steelers have been in this situation before. They were left with the task of going into Foxborough and playing the defending champs in 2015, and left 28-21 losers in the contest. In fact, the last time the Steelers beat the Patriots in their house was in November of 2008 when Matt Cassel, not Tom Brady, watched the Steelers pulverize them to the tune of 33-10.
Ever since that game, every trip to New England has resulted in a loss for the black-and-gold.
Throughout those years, a lot has changed with the Patriots, but one player has remained the same — Tom Brady.
During Mike Tomlin’s Week 1 press conference Tuesday, he was asked about how the game plan might change with Rob Gronkowski out of the lineup due to retirement. His response didn’t mention Gronkowski, as much as it did Brady.
When you think about it, Brady is the one consistent to the Patriots’ offense, and the main reason why they have been so good for so long. Brady’s weapons now might be Julian Edelman and Sony Michel, but there was a time when it was Kevin Faulk and Wes Welker. Or Ben Watson, earlier in his career, and Corey Dillon.
This happens when you play in the league as long as Brady has.
Recognizing Brady’s capabilities and intelligence are one thing, but stopping him is another. Tomlin talked about just how difficult is to “trick” Brady, and how sacks always come at a premium when facing No. 12.
Tomlin: "You're not going to trick Tom Brady."— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) September 3, 2019
Tomlin on pass rush: "you're not going to take Brady down a bunch." Key is to rush in moments when need to rattle him.— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) September 3, 2019
If you think about the success the Steelers had in Week 15 of 2018, where they beat Brady and company at Heinz Field, they were able to get pressure on the quarterback when it was necessary.
Tomlin likes the direction the team, especially the defense, is heading, but realizes nothing will come to fruition until the team steps on the field and live game action ensues. With that said, Tomlin, and his players, know what is paramount in getting a win against the Patriots, stopping No. 12. Know this is one thing, executing the plan is another.
Will they be able to get the job done? Let us know what you think in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the Patriots in Week 1 on prime time.