Here’s a quick number to sit on – 100, which is Tom Brady’s winning percentage against the Pittsburgh Steelers in New England. By now, numbers like Brady’s 5-0 record against the Steelers in New England have probably been burned into everyone’s head so instead let’s focus on some other intangibles that could shape Sunday night’s matchup between the Steelers and the New England Patriots.
17.75 – Ben Roethlisberger and Brady have met four times in Foxborough and not one of those contests came down to the wire. In fact, most were decided by the fourth quarter, if not earlier, as the Patriots’ average margin of victory over Roethlisberger has been 17.75 points. The Steelers’ closest loss, a 28-21 defeat during the 2015 season opener, was not even as close as it appears, as the Steelers were behind by two scores until the game’s final minutes. Roethlisberger’s only victory in Foxborough came in 2008 against Matt Cassel but whenever Brady has been at the helm, New England has been a place of horror for Roethlisberger and the Steelers.
2016: Patriots 36 Steelers 17
2015: Patriots 28 Steelers 21
2013: Patriots 55 Steelers 31
2007: Patriots 34 Steelers 13
25 – I wrote an article earlier this week about the reputation of Brady and Roethlisberger both being slow starters. Rust will almost certainly be a factor in Sunday’s game as both quarterbacks have thrown just 25 combined pass attempts this preseason. Do not expect that rust to take long to wear off though, as it is neither Roethlisberger’s nor Brady’s first rodeo but whichever quarterback can get into form first will put their team at an advantage. The team that strikes early will have a chance to get momentum going and perhaps set the tone for the entire game.
27 – Sunday’s game will be played under the bright lights of Sunday Night Football and as the lights get brighter, the Patriots seemingly get better. While the Patriots have always been tough to beat at home, they own an AFC best 27-9 record in home primetime games since 2001. Fortunately for the Steelers, they too have risen to the occasion in primetime games under Mike Tomlin. Under Tomlin, the Steelers are currently sporting a 38-19 record in all primetime games.
56.8 – One big issue that has plagued the Steelers in New England has been their inability to get off the field on third downs. Over his last four contests against the Steelers at home, Brady and the Patriots have converted 56.8-percent of their third down attempts. Hard to win on the road when you are giving the competition better odds than a coin flip at converting third downs.
116.6 – If the Steelers know how to do one thing well against the Patriots, it’s running the football. Over the last five games played between the two teams, the Steelers have rushed for an average of 116.6 yards per game, gashing the Patriots’ defense time and time again. It has not all come from one individual either. Last year it was Jaylen Samuels rushing for 142 yards, Le’Veon Bell went for 117 yards the year prior and even DeAngelo Williams put up 127 rushing yards in the 2015 season opener. James Conner has not had a chance to inflict any damage to the Patriots’ run defense but he will get all the opportunities he needs this Sunday.