The Pittsburgh Steelers have been one of the NFL’s most successful franchises over the last 50 years. No team has won more games than the Steelers since 1970 and along with the New England Patriots, no team has won more Super Bowls than the Steelers. Even Superman has his kryptonite and the Pittsburgh franchise has also come across some players that have just had their number throughout the years. This series will look at the Steelers’ biggest forms of kryptonite. These are players who have just had the team’s number time and time again.
Here’s one chapter I have been dreading to write about since I started this series but the time has finally come because it would be impossible to mention the various forms of kryptonite to the Steelers’ franchise without mentioning Tom Brady.
The AFC has been a fun and compelling playground for much of the last two decades. There have been numerous cliques that have shared the yard such as the Colts, the Chargers, the Ravens and the Steelers. Despite all these talented teams, there was still one true bully in that yard and it was Brady’s Patriots. Brady was especially ruthless to the Steelers, not only did he figuratively steal their lunch money – I mean Super Bowl hopes, every time they met but he also made sure to bully them into submission.
Here are Brady’s career regular season numbers against the Steelers. Viewer discretion is advised because this might hurt your eyes to look at.
9 wins, 3 losses
68.8 completion percentage
3744 passing yards
29 passing touchdowns
111.1 passer rating
Brady’s postseason numbers against the Steelers are even more disturbing. Three wins, zero losses. A completion percentage of 71.6-percent, five touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 118.6 passer rating. All three of those postseason victories came in the AFC Championship game. With the Steelers knocking on the door of the Super Bowl, Brady has been the one to send them back home on three occasions.
Brady’s first postseason encounter with the Steelers came in the 2001 AFC Championship game. The former Patriots’ quarterback started that game but did not finish. Despite, the young quarterback out of the game with an injury, the Steelers still could not overcome the Patriots, losing 24-17.
Fast forward three years later. The Steelers are coming off a 15-1 season with a magnificent defense and a young rookie quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger. They are hosting the Patriots at Heinz Field with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. That trip to the Super Bowl would be cancelled as Brady did Brady-like things, throwing for two touchdowns and zero interceptions while finishing with a 130.5 passer rating as the Patriots won effortlessly by a score of 41-27.
The two sides would not meet again in the postseason until the 2016 regular season. While this would be their third post season meeting, let it be known that the third time would not be the charm for the Steelers as Brady once again carved up the Steelers’ zone defense by completing over 75-percent of his passes and throwing for three touchdowns as he cruised to another victory.
That darn zone defense. For majority of Brady’s tenure in New England, the Steelers imposed a zone heavy secondary which the former Patriots’ quarterback carved up time and time again. This is not exaggeration either, just check the numbers. Brady’s 111.1 passer rating against the Steelers is his highest out of all AFC foes and that is no small sample size either, with 12 regular season games played between the two sides. Making matters even worse, no quarterback has thrown for more touchdowns against the Steelers’ franchise than Tommy Terrific.
Most Passing Touchdowns Vs Steelers In Franchise History
- Tom Brady – 29
- Joe Flacco – 25
- Warren Moon – 25
If Brady has been the one true kryptonite, the Steelers have shown a tad of hope throughout history to defeat him. That hope is press coverage. It has worked twice before. Once in 2011, when the Steelers managed to upset the Patriots by a score of 25-17. While that game still came down to the wire, the Patriots were never in control of that ballgame. The second occasion came in 2018, another upset win by the Steelers. Brady was held to just one touchdown that game, which came on a busted coverage. Other than that, the Patriots’ offense was held to just three points the rest of the way.
Brady’s dominance over the last two decades is an ugly chapter in Steelers’ history. The question over how many great Steelers’ teams were unable to reach the Super Bowl due to the dynasty built by the former Patriots’ quarterback is an uncomfortable one to think about. Whether it be due to lack of personnel or refusal to alter the status quo, the Steelers rarely strayed away from their zone defense during Brady’s two decade long reign over the AFC and as a result, the decorated franchise now sees themselves tied with the Patriots for most Super Bowl rings in NFL history.