ESPN insider Adam Schefter confirmed that the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers will open the NFL season at Gillete Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on Septemeber 10, 2015, at 8 p.m. on ESPN. Tom Brady leads the Super Bowl champion Patriots against the perennial powers from Pittsburgh.
Here are five facts you need to know about this matchup:
1. The Teams Have Won 10 Super Bowls Combined
The Patriots are the reigning Super Bowl champions and Pittsburgh last won the Lombardi trophy after the 2008 season.
The Steelers have won the Super Bowl in 1975, 1976, 1979, 1980, 2005 and 2009, and their six titles are the most in NFL history. The Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals in the 2009 Super Bowl in Tampa 27-23 and made the Super Bowl in 2011 as well, losing 35-31 to the Packers.
The Patriots have won Super Bowls in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2015 and have made the most Super Bowls in NFL history, eight. As well as their wins, they also lost in 1986, 1997, 2008 and 2012. Their four wins are the third most in NFL history and the four losses are second most. They defeated the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 on February 1, 2015, in Super Bowl XLIX.
2. The Teams Have Combined for 16 AFC Titles & Have Played Twice in the AFC Championship Game
The Steelers have appeared in the AFC Championship game 15 times and the Patriots have made 11 appearances. The Steelers are 8-7 in the AFC Championship game and the Patriots are 8-3 in the game.
As the Patriots were in the Super Bowl last year, they won the AFC Championship game in 2015 as well, beating the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 on January 18, 2015. Previous to this game, though, the Patriots had lost the past two AFC Championship games. In 2013, they lost to the Baltimore Ravens 28-13 and in 2014 they lost 26-16 to the Denver Broncos.
The Steelers have not been to the AFC Championship game since 2011, when they beat the New York Jets 24-19. The Steelers have won their past three AFC Championship games, beating the Ravens 23-14 in 2009 and the Broncos 34-17 in 2006.
The Steelers and Patriots have faced twice in the AFC Championship. They last faced off in the 2005 AFC Championship game, with New England winning 41-27. They also faced off in the 2002 AFC Championship game, a 24-17 win for the Patriots.
3. Both Are Led by Future Hall of Fame Quarterbacks
Quarterbacks Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger lead these two teams. They have faced off nine times since 2002 and Brady and the Patriots are 7-2 against the Steelers. The Steelers have never beaten Brady’s Patriots at Gilette Stadium and have only won once at Gilette (then Foxborough) Stadium, on December 13, 1997.
Brady has thrown for 53,258 yards, 392 touchdowns, and has won four Super Bowl titles. Brady has thrown for 30 touchdowns in a season five times and has thrown for 4,000 yards in a season seven times. He is top five all time in passes completed, passing yards, passing touchdowns, passer rating, fewest percentage of passes intercepted, and playoff games started.
Ben Roethlisberger has thrown for 39,057 yards, 251 touchdowns, and won two Super Bowls. He led the NFL in passing yards in 2014 with 4,952 yards and posted the best QBR in his career, 72.48. The 2006 and 2009 Super Bowl champion is top 20 all time in passes completed, passing yards, passing touchdowns, passer rating, passing yards per game, passing yards per attempt, and pass completion percentage.
4. The Patriots Have Dominated the Rivalry Recently
The Patriots have rolled over the Steelers over the better part of the last decade.
The Patriots and Steelers last faced off in 2013, a 55-31 Patriots win, and the Patriots have won seven of ten games since 2002.
An article before their 2011 matchup illuminated that the Patriots have had a relatively easy time with the Steelers. Tom Brady has had a particularly easy time with the Steelers, completing 68.3% of his passes with 18 touchdowns against three interceptions.
5. Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick Has Been Playing the Steelers for 3 Decades
Before taking over the Patriots in 2000, Bill Belichick was 3-8 against the Steelers as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns from 1991-1995.
Although he has been successful with the Patriots, he still has a losing record (10-11) as a head coach against the Steelers.
He did face the Steelers as a New York Giants assistant in 1985, as the Giants won 28-10 over the Steelers.