NEW ORLEANS (Jan. 28, 2002) -- We were not going to be bullied, starting with the coin toss. I started talking as soon as we went out to midfield. I told Jerome Bettis that he wasn't going to run the ball like he wanted to. I didn't even hear the referee. I told Jerome that the Steelers weren't going to run over us. We were not going to be intimidated.
With Tom Brady sidelined by injury, Drew Bledsoe came off the bench to lead New England to a 24-17 win at Pittsburgh.
From the coin flip until the last play, we did not let the Steelers -- the team that was supposed to go to the Super Bowl -- intimidate us. From start to finish, we came out ready to hit and ready to be hit. But no matter how hard they came at us, we were not going to back down.
The media didn't think we could do it. They didn't think we could beat the AFC's best team. But we don't listen to the media. People will call this an upset, but it's not in our eyes. We respected the Steelers because they're a good team, but you can't let anyone push you around. This was no upset.
There wasn't any special game plan for stopping the Steelers' running game or controlling Kordell Stewart. Our game plan was to not get pushed around. The Steelers pushed around a lot of teams this season, but we weren't going to get bullied. Whether it was on offense or defense, we weren't going to be pushed around.
We knew that Jerome was coming back and he has run on some teams, but not us. We were concerned with Kordell getting out of the pocket, but we weren't going to let him beat us. We established ourselves on defense, got a [punt return for a] touchdown from Troy Brown, and blocked a field goal. We don't care how we do it; we just keep playing and hitting until the other team gives up.
I would categorize this win like Vernon Forrest beating Sugar Shane Moseley [for the WBC welterweight championship]. A lot of our guys watched that fight Saturday night. We came out punching at the bell and didn't let up until we had knocked down the champion.
I'm not sure where we're staying in New Orleans. We didn't make plans. Not because we didn't think we could win. We didn't make any plans because we were focused on one game. And now we've got to focus on one more -- the Super Bowl.
-- As told to Tim Polzer