The New England Patriots will travel to the Steel City for the third time in less than a year to face the Pittsburgh Steelers for the first time since last season's AFC Championship Game. The matchup features a plethora of storylines, as the rich recent history between the two clubs will ensure that this week's contest is one of the most anticipated games of the year in both Western Pennsylvania and New England. The last time the Patriots played in Pittsburgh during the regular season, New England entered the game with an NFL-record 21-game winning streak. This time, it is the Steelers that are on a winning run, having claimed victory in 16 consecutive regular-season contests. That mark is just two wins shy of the all-time regular-season record (18) held by the Patriots – the very same streak that the Steelers snapped less than 11 months ago.
Local / National Broadcast
TELEVISION:This week's game will be televised to a regional audience by CBS and can be seen in Boston on WBZ Channel 4. Jim Nantz will handle play-by-play duties and will be joined by analyst Phil Simms. Bonnie Bernstein will provide sideline reports throughout the game.
RADIO: WBCN 104.1 FM is the flagship station for the Patriots Rock Radio Network. For a complete listing of the network's 34 stations click here. Play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos is in his his 28th season as the voice of the Patriots and will call the action along with Patriots Hall of Famer Gino Cappelletti. Santos and Cappelletti are celebrating their 21st season as a broadcast tandem.
NATIONAL RADIO: This week's game will be broadcast nationally by Westwood One/CBS Radio Sports. Dave Sims and Jack Ham will call the game.
The Patriots and Steelers will square off for the fifth time in five seasons, for the 10th time in 11 seasons and for the third time in less than a calendar year. The two teams played just eight months ago in the AFC Championship Game, a contest won by the Patriots after suffering a loss to Pittsburgh in the 2004 regular season that ended New England's NFL-record 21-game winning streak. The recent rivalry between the teams began in 2001, when New England scored a 24-17 upset win at Heinz Field in the AFC Championship Game as part of New England's first Super Bowl run. The teams followed that memorable matchup in the grand opening of Gillette Stadium in 2002, with the Patriots breaking in their new home with 30-14 win on Monday Night Football. The Patriots have won four of the last five meetings dating back to the 1998 season. Of the previous 21 games in the series, 15 have been played in Pittsburgh, where the Steelers own a 9-5 advantage. New England, however, has won the two playoff meetings at Heinz Field in the 2001 and 2004 AFC Championship Games.
- Patriots linebacker Chad Brown was drafted by the Steelers in 1993 and played in Pittsburgh for four seasons, going to the Pro Bowl as a Steeler in 1996.
- Chad Brown and Steelers cornerback Willie Williams were teammates in Seattle from 1997-2003. Williams and Patriots tight end Chrsitian Fauria were also teammates in Seattle from 1997-2001.
- Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel played in 51 games for Pittsburgh from 1997-2000. He totaled 43 tackles, including seven sacks while with the Steelers.
- Patriots running back Kevin Faulk played with Steelers guard Alan Faneca at Louisiana State from 1995 to 1997.
- Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour and Steelers receiver Hines Ward were teammates at Georgia in 1997.
- Patriots cornerback Chad Scott was drafted by the Steelers in 1997 and spent the first eight years of his career in Pittsburgh before he was signed by the Patriots in 2005.
- Patriots running back Corey Dillon and Steelers defensive lineman Kimo von Oelhoffen were teammates in Cincinnati from 1997 to 1999.
- Patriots offensive linemen Matt Light and Brandon Gorin played on the same offensive line at Purdue with Steelers center Chukky Okobi. Okobi was also a teammate of Patriots linebacker Rosevelt Colvin at Purdue.
- Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw passes to Steelers tight end Jerame Tuman when the two were teammates at Michigan in 1998.
- Patriots punter Josh Miller played for the Steelers for eight years, from 1996-2003.
- Patriots linebacker Tully Banta-Cain and Steelers cornerback Chidi Iwuoma played on the same defense for California in 1999 and 2000.
- Steelers linebacker James Farrior was coached by Bill Belichick when Farrior was with the New York Jets from 1997-1999.
- Steelers fullback Dan Kreider was a three-year starter for the University of New Hampshire from 1997-1999.
- Steelers quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple was the head coach at UMass from 1998-2003.
- Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was Corey Dillon's head coach with the Bengals from 2000-2002.
- Steelers special teams ace Sean Morey played in two games for New England in 1999. Bouncing Back
The Patriots have not lost back-to-back games since December, 2002. Their streak of 35 consecutive weeks without back-toback losses is the longest current streak in the NFL and the longest such mark in franchise history. The post-merger NFL record for consecutive weeks without two straight losses is 60, set by the San Francisco 49ers from 1995-99. The last time the Patriots had a losing streak was when they dropped a game at Tennessee (24-7, 12/16/02), and followed that with a home loss to the N.Y. Jets (30-14, 12/22/02). Below is a list of the longest current streaks without back-to-back defeats.
In the Pitt
The number of times the Patriots will have traveled to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers since Oct. 31, 2004.
The number of other times in franchise history that the Patriots have faced the same team on the road in the same city within a calendar year (at N.Y. Jets three times between 1985-86).
The number of days that will have passed since the Patriots' 41- 27 victory over the Steelers in the 2004 AFC Championship Game by the time this week's game kicks off.
The number of days that will have passed since the Steelers' 34- 20 win over the Patriots in the 2004 regular season by the time this week's game kicks off.
The number of points the Patriots scored off turnovers in the 2004 AFC Championship Game.
The number of points the Steelers scored off turnovers in their 34-20 win over the Patriots on Oct. 31, 2004.
The score in the Patriots' victory over the Steelers in the 2001 AFC Championship Game at Heinz Field on Jan. 27, 2002.