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This & That: Hype, fans & pressure

Posted Dec 15, 2017

Players are embracing the hype for Sunday's game, and hope the fans are fired up.

Embrace it: Earlier this week Coach Mike Tomlin talked about embracing the hype of the Steelers-Patriots game on Sunday, a game that is one of the most talked about games in the NFL this season.

“I love it,” said Tomlin. “It’s good to be in big games. It’s better to be in big games than ones nobody is watching.

“We better be appreciative of this spot, and not resist it in any way, but embrace it. This is what we've been fighting for since March. To be in these types of games, it’s an awesome thing.”

It appears the players have listened.

“It’s going to be a big game, an exciting game,” said Bud Dupree. “We are ready to play, ready to make something happen.”

Eli Rogers was very animated talking about the hype surrounding the game, and was nothing but smiles when asked if he embraces it.

“Absolutely. Yes. Absolutely. Yes. Yes. Yes,” said Rogers. “Growing up you watch championship football, the Steelers and Patriots, all the rivalries. As a kid you desire to have that. To be here and be inside of it, your perspective on it is still the same, but approaching it, the energy is built up inside. You are going out there and performing. It’s exciting. It’s a blessing. And it’s about to go down.”

The Steelers hold the top spot in the AFC, and a win would give them a first-round bye in the playoffs, and if the Steelers win and Jacksonville loses to Houston, it would clinch homefield throughout the playoffs for the black and gold.

“This is the game everybody has been waiting to see, the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the AFC going at it head to head,” said Le’Veon Bell. “This is a game before the season started people circled. I am going to embrace the game. It’s a team always in the hunt of a Super Bowl. It’s going to be good playing against those guys.”

It will be a tough test for the Steelers, but a test they are ready to take on and ready to enjoy.

“We are all competitors,” said Mike Hilton. “Going against one of the best teams, best quarterbacks, and one of the best coaches. You can’t help but be excited. It’s an exciting feeling.”

Home field advantage: Steelers players are hoping fans come out in full force on Sunday at Heinz Field, and make plenty of noise to make life difficult on the Patriots offense.

“This is big,” said Tyson Alualu. “For us, for the city. Any advantage we could get we would love. It’s a great atmosphere to play in. We have to make it hard for them to make calls and make it hard for Tom Brady to do what he does.”

The players feed off the energy from the fans, and from all of the excitement inside Heinz Field.

“I want to tell the fans you better be crazy,” said Javon Hargrave. “Make it uncomfortable, unbearable. Make it hard for them to communicate. We are going to do the rest.

“There is just something about it, about the feeling at Heinz Field, especially when Renegade goes off. It’s a different type of feel. It’s a feeling you get. There is a lot of love there.”  

Applying pressure: For the Steelers defensive line, there are two key factors against the Patriots. One, stop the run. Two, apply pressure to Tom Brady.

“That is the most important part, other than stopping the run, getting pressure,” said Alualu. “We have to find a way to affect them in some way, whether it’s sacking him or not letting him find comfort going through his reads. We know how good a quarterback he is.”