PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Since being hired as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007, Hampton native Mike Tomlin has led Pittsburgh to 114 victories in the regular season – the second-most wins in the NFL during that time span. The only franchise with more victories since 2007? The Patriots.
Sunday, Pittsburgh and the Pats meet again.
“I’ve seen a lot of big games, been in a lot of big games,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger explained. “For me it’s this week, it’s the biggest game of the week, because it’s the game this week. I know everyone has been building this up because of the record, the teams, things like that but for me it’s about this week and the team we play and they are the best in the world.
In a rematch of the 2016 AFC Championship – and a game to be broadcast live on News 3, the Patriots will travel to Pittsburgh for the second straight season for a regular season game. This week’s matchup will be the 31st meeting overall and the third straight year the two teams will play in the regular season. Pittsburgh leads the regular season series by a 14-11 margin, while New England leads 4-1 in the postseason.
“I think just us putting together a great game is going to be enough motivation for us,” said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. “We’re playing a good team on the road. We’ve had a bunch of those in a row now. I mean, it’s late in the year, so all these games are important.”
Since 2004, Roethlisberger’s rookie season, either the Patriots or Steelers have reached the AFC title game every season but one (2009). Entering Sunday’s match-up, Pittsburgh is atop the AFC standings with an 11-and-2 record. The Patriots are one game behind the Steelers with a mark of 10-and-3. Whichever team comes out victorious Sunday will have the inside track to the AFC’s top seed and home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs. Since 2005, the road team has won the AFC Championship just once.
“We are excited about being in the ‘kitchen’ if you will,” Tomlin said. “It’s good being in the ‘kitchen’ and the ‘kitchen’ is in Pittsburgh this week in the National Football League and at Heinz Field. That’s where you want to be in the middle of December.”