The Steelers take on the New England Patriots on Sunday at Heinz Field, in a game that has implications on the postseason for both teams.
And the atmosphere is expected to be electric, with Steelers Nation stepping up big like they always do to make it tough on the visitors.
“It’s a great environment,” said Patriots Coach Bill Belichick. “It's a great football area, Western Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh has had a lot of great players and great coaches, high school football, college football, pro football, championships in that area, both collegiately and professionally. It's great history and great tradition there. The fans are very passionate about football and that's reflected at the stadium. They give their team great support. It'll be loud. It'll be intense, like it is in a lot of stadiums that we go into. But they do a real good job there.”
The Patriots shared more thoughts on playing in Pittsburgh, as well as talking about the Steelers weapons on offense and defense.
Here is a look at what the Patriots are saying about the Steelers.
Belichick on if Antonio Brown should be in the conversation for NFL MVP:
“Absolutely. He is a great player. Give it to Bell too. Give it to Roethlisberger too if you want to. They are all really good and excel at their position, excel every week. Even though everybody knows they are the best guy and they have to target those guys, they do it every week. When you get that kind of attention and continue to have the extraordinary production those three players have, you have to talk about them. It’s so unusual to have players of that caliber on the same team. They are all deserving of any recognition they get.”
Tom Brady on Ben Roethlisberger:
“I have followed his career. I think he is just incredible. He has been an incredible player and has such a unique style of play. He has those guys going. That offense looks unstoppable. Ben looks like he is playing as good as he ever had.”
Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels on playing in Pittsburgh:
“That area of the country, Western Pennsylvania, is obviously rich in football tradition and history, and this franchise is very decorated. We've had the opportunity to play against them a number of times there over the years. It will be a tremendous atmosphere. If you like football, that will be the place to be on Sunday.”
Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia on playing in Pittsburgh:
“We have a huge challenge in front of us this week. Going into Pittsburgh and having an opportunity to play in that environment is certainly something that as difficult as it is and as hard as it is to go play in their stadium with their crowd and their fans which really come out in droves to support them. It's loud. It's everything you want a football environment to be when you're a visitor in that stadium. It's a difficult place to play but it's also a great challenge for us. We always say if you like the game of football, if you love football and you love those environments, then you love to go play in them whether you're either home or away. I'm sure that place will be rocking. There's a long rivalry and history there which is great with all the good things about the game.”
Belichick on the Steelers offense:
“They do a great job. They can run the ball, they can throw it, they can throw it to a lot of different people. They can score a lot of points. They have a big, long, powerful offensive line. They can do it all. As good as an offense that we have seen in a while.”
McDaniels on the challenge of facing the Steelers’ defense:
“This is a really good football team, the best team we've played. Statistically, where do you want to start - yards allowed, rushing defense, passing yards allowed, sacks, turnovers, points allowed, third down. This is a team that does everything well, and they've got a lot of good players. I know they've dealt with some injuries the last so many weeks here, but the guys that have stepped in have done a nice job.
“They've got very talented players at all three levels of their defense. Their scheme is difficult. They pressure as much as any team we'll play all season. I mean, everybody's got sacks and pressures on the quarterbacks from the safeties, to the nickel backs, to the linebackers, down linemen. (Cameron) Heyward, (Stephon) Tuitt, (Javon) Hargrave - those guys are tremendously disruptive, both in the running game and the passing game. Their edge guys rush good. They challenge you with a ton of different coverage variations.
“You're going to deal with the noise. So, this is as much as you'll want in terms of preparing for a really good team, on the road, important game.”
Brady on the Steelers:
“I know they have a really good defense. It’s not going to get any easier. They are a tough, hard-nosed team. They will be ready to go, I know that. They have been talking about it for a while now. They have had a couple of close games the last couple of weeks and found a way to pull them out. We have to go out and play well against a team that is hot and has a lot of players offensively, they are really highly ranked defensively in a lot of areas. Not an easy matchup.”
Belichick on Le’Veon Bell:
“He is a great player. He is almost impossible to stop. He does everything well. Runs well, great power, quickness and vision. Excellent receiver. Hard to tackle. The guy is a great player.”
James White on the Steelers:
“They are a good football team. They play very well. Another tough atmosphere. They are playing extremely well.”
McDaniels on the Steelers’ linebackers:
“First of all, (Ryan) Shazier's a tremendous player and certainly wish him nothing but the best in his recovery from that injury. The linebacking corps is a typical Pittsburgh Steelers linebacking corps. They do a tremendous job there coaching their entire defense. That's kind of been one of the staples of their defense over the many years that we've coached against them.
“This is the next group of them – (Bud) Dupree and (T.J.) Watt and (Anthony) Chickillo and (James) Harrison on the edge. (Arthur) Moats plays some out there, too. (Vince) Williams, obviously, a guy that leads their team in tackles. (Tyler) Matakevich, he's been injured a little bit, but he's also in there and been productive. And then they brought (Sean) Spence back.
“They know what to do, they play their system and their scheme extremely well, they're disciplined and detailed, they're all aggressive, they're physical, they all blitz in different combinations with one another, they all drop into coverage, also, and do a decent job in their defense in terms of what their responsibilities are there, too. So, they can bring a lot of different combinations at the quarterback, try to disrupt your running game a lot of different ways. Each one of those guys has been productive in their role this year.
Patricia on the Steelers offense:
“They are a very explosive, very dangerous offense, skill players across the board. You start with the quarterback and his ability to just make great plays. Again, throw the ball, get the ball downfield, and get it to his skill guys. He does a good job of moving the ball around, gets it to his playmakers in critical situations. (He) does a great job of reading the defense and he can change plays if he needs to and change protections and just does a really good job of managing and running that offense. A great player that we're obviously going to have a difficult time against and we've got to do a good job against him.
“(Le'Veon) Bell, one of the best backs in the league, very explosive, dangerous guy not only in the run game but in the passing game. I think you saw the other night how hard he runs and how physical he is as a player even though he has a very patient running style. With that determination that he has to burst through a hole or take the edge or cut back or make a play, you've really got to do a great job of just tackling and driving and playing physical because he's a tough guy to get a hold of. (James) Conner is in there also, so another really good player for them that they'll get in the game. (Martavis) Bryant, (Antonio) Brown, I mean obviously great players outside on the perimeter along with the tight end position which they do a good job of utilizing those guys. Jesse James inside and working him in space.
“Antonio Brown is a great player. He's one of the best wide receivers in the league so obviously he gets a lot of attention which frees up some opportunities for some of those other guys and the quarterback will do a great job of exploiting those situations whether it's a check down to the back or get the ball to the tight end quickly. There's a lot of formations. Coach (Todd) Haley does a good job of moving the formations on you also so that you have to try to defend a lot of space which they have really good players to take advantage of that.”