The Patriots haven't played the Steelers since the 2019 opener and haven't visited Pittsburgh since 2018 but the experience of playing in the Steel City is one not forgotten by David Andrews, who has two games on the road against them in his career.
"2016 was the first time I played there and someone told me at the start of the fourth quarter that Renegade is coming on and it did," said Andrews of Pittsburgh's fourth-quarter pump-up tradition, when Styx's Renegade fills the stadium to the delight of the Steeler fans. "I think it's great. It kind of brings you back to college fight songs. It's a great atmosphere, it gets them going I think as a competitor you love that, it's why you play the game."
Andrews recalled watching the Patriots-Steelers games of the early 2000's, when the teams met in two AFC Championship games and had some epic battles with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Those kinds of games carried over into the last decade, with Pittsburgh winning two of the last three games at home, including 2018's 17-10 victory.
No matter what's on the line, Pats-Steelers always seems to deliver.
"It's a great environment," said Andrews. "Growing up, watching a lot of these games, Pittsburgh and the Patriots. What an awesome football city that is, getting to play there early in my career we always played them a lot. Super competitive games. Great fanbase. Obviously, one of the most historic franchises in the league. Great franchise in how they do things, how they build it. So, just a lot of respect for them and the atmosphere."
Andrews and his offensive line will play a critical role in this weekend's matchup, as they always do. Pittsburgh features a disruptive front, led by long-time veteran Cameron Heyward, of whom Andrews said, 'He's done it for 12 years now, what else could he do in his career? He's a great player, he's a complete player, he plays the run well, he plays the pass well, very powerful guy... He's done it all, all three downs."
But Heyward is just the first part of the problems that Pittsburgh presents. Even without T.J. Watt, it's a big and aggressive front seven that knows how to attack protections and get quarterbacks out of their comfort zone. New England must keep Mac Jones upright and protected if he's to have to time to distribute the ball.
"They got really good players, they got really good schemes and they're a really good football team so it's going to be a big challenge Sunday," said Andrews. "It's just what you dream of when you play in the NFL, to play in games like this, especially on a beautiful fall afternoon."