For much of the Pittsburgh Steelers past two decades of football, the New England Patriots were never an easy opponent. As the two teams prepare for their Week 2 outing in Acrisure Stadium Sunday, they are doing so for the first time in a long time without long-time quarterbacks Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger.
In the past two decades, the matchups between against the Patriots were not particularly favorable for Pittsburgh, as New England seemed to be a consistent road block for the Steelers. That is, the Steelers are 4-9 against New England since 2001, the year that marked the beginning of the Brady era that the Steelers struggled against. This raises the question of what coach Belichick’s preparation for the Steelers often entailed, a question that former Patriots receiver and returner Gunner Olszewski answers from his first-hand experience as a Patriot.
“I take good notes in my notebook,” Olszewski said when asked if he remembers his impression of the Steelers during his time in New England according to Steelers.com. “Every time Bill [Belichick] got up there and spoke, like I do with Mike Tomlin, up in front of the team and he told us what kind of team the Steelers are. Now I got to experience who the Steelers are and he was right about every word. So he sure knows what we do here, and they know what they do there. I think that’s kind of how those games always end up happening the way they do.”
The Steelers and Patriots have no shortage of accolades, and are arguably the two most accomplished franchises in the Super Bowl era. From being tied for the most Super Bowls to being tied for the most Playoff wins since 1967, the two franchises are certainly proud of their history. Notably, the two teams also have the two longest tenured head coaches in the NFL, Bill Belichick and Mike Tomlin, the former coaching since 2000 and the latter since 2007.
Belichick, who is arguably the most accomplished coach in NFL history, is well known to excel at out scheming the opposition. Giving a speech on the type of team the Steelers are prior to the two teams’ matchups appears to be an effective strategy, given his success against Pittsburgh over the years.
There is a lot to be said for Belichick’s admiration for the Steelers. The fact that Olszewski praised the Steelers culture and stated that it’s identical to how Belichick described it speaks to the Steelers franchise. Having coached in the NFL in some capacity since 1975, Belichick seems to have picked up a thing or two about the Steelers philosophy. After all, the team has had three head coaches since 1969, and the Rooneys are among the most respected owners in the NFL.