It is rivalry week at SB Nation NFL! All week long, the entire network will focus on rivalries all over the league — the famous and the obscure. Today, we’ll take a look at one of the New England Patriots current rivals, if you can call it that.
After this weekend, some Patriots fans are worried about the seeding in the AFC at the end of the year. Yes, the Chiefs are a wagon, and going to Arrowhead for the AFC Championship game will certainly be difficult. The number two seed, however, is not locked up: the Jaguars choked this weekend, but the Patriots still control their own destiny as the Steelers are the only ones standing in their way. Ah, the Steelers.
Steelers fans will tell you they’ve been the biggest competition for the Patriots during New England’s unprecedented run, and I will tell you to laugh in their face if they bring that weak take to you. Tom Brady doesn’t lose to the Steelers. Well, he does, but not often. The last time the Steelers beat the Patriots was 2011, and Brady is 11-2 against them over the course of his legendary career.
Yes, the Steelers have two Super Bowl wins since 2001, but that doesn’t mean they can beat the Patriots. They won the Super Bowl in 2008, and beat the Patriots during the regular season that year, but Brady was out with a knee injury. Pittsburgh also won the title in 2005, and that was the season when the Patriots lost to the Broncos thanks to the worst call in the history of the NFL.
So let’s take a look at the two losses Brady has against the Steelers. The first was in 2004 and it broke the steak of 21 consecutive wins by the Patriots. It was in the middle of Ben Roethlisberger going 15-0 as a rookie, after not playing the first game. A great win for the Steelers, and the Patriots, even with maybe their best team ever, had to settle for the number two playoff seed that year.
They then shut down the best offense in the NFL, the Colts, beating them 20-3, before hanging 41 on the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Roethlisberger played like a rookie that day, throwing three picks including one that was returned 87 yards for a touchdown by Rodney Harrison. Still, the Steelers beat the Patriots in the regular season, on Halloween, that year. They wouldn’t do so again until 2011, when they beat them on October 30th, again in Pittsburgh.
Fun fact about that game: Antonio Brown caught his first career touchdown in that game. It was the last touchdown the Steelers scored that day, in a contest they won by eight points. They would finish the 2011 season 12-4, but lose the division to the Ravens, and then lose in the Wild Card round to the Tim Tebow-led Denver Broncos in overtime. Tebow and the Broncos would go to New England the next week and lose 45-10.
Of Brady’s eleven wins against the Steelers, three of them have been in postseason — all three of those in the AFC Championship game. Two of those games have been on the road. In fact, six of his eleven wins have been in Pittsburgh, the most recent being the wild victory last December.
So, the next time a Steelers fan tries to tell you that they are the Patriots’ rival, just laugh at them. Their AFC North rival might actually be the Ravens — Brady is 8-3 against them too — but at least they’ve beaten the Patriots in the playoffs. Until the Steelers do that, they’ll continue to be the nail to the Patriots’ hammer.
Pat is the host of the Patriot Nation Podcast
Interact with him on Twitter @plane_pats