Oct 16, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin looks on in the game against the Miami Dolphins during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. The Miami Dolphins defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-15. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Tomlin has been at the controls of the Steelers since 2007. (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — When Bill Belichick and Tom Brady talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers, the enormous respect they have for the organization is obvious.

This is the 15th anniversary of New England’s first AFC championship encounter with the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The two franchises have been the most successful in the AFC in the Super Bowl era.

The Steelers have six Super Bowl titles and the Patriots own four.

Since 1995, the two teams have combined for a remarkable run of dominance in the AFC. In that stretch, the Patriots have been to seven Super Bowls and 10 AFC championship games. The Steelers have been to four Super Bowls, winning twice and have made it to the AFC championship eight times.

“They’ve been one of the best for a long time,” Brady said Wednesday. “The history of the Steeler organization with so many great players and teams and championships, you know you’re always going to get a dog fight when you play them.

“I have a lot of respect for them. They play the game the right way. They’re always physical. They’re a tough, physical group and that’s pretty much what comes out of Pittsburgh. They play well, they’re coached well. They’re just a great organization.”

Belichick has an even greater appreciation for what the Rooney family has accomplished, going back to 1975, Belichick’s first year in the NFL. That was the year he was an assistant under Ted Marchibroda in Baltimore. That year, the Colts lost to the powerhouse Steel Curtain in the the AFC divisional round, 21-10, as Andy Russell returned a fumble for a game-changing score.

That was the second of four Vince Lombardi trophies in six years for head coach Chuck Noll and the Steelers, as they built the dynasty that continues today. After Noll, the Steelers have had just two head coaches, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin, a remarkable run of consistency in the organization. Unlike the Bengals, who have had the same head coach for 14 years, the Steelers have actually had playoff success under Cowher and Tomlin, with each head coach winning a Super Bowl.

“They have great continuity,” Belichick said. “They’ve had three coaches since the late 60s. Coach Cowher, Coach Tomlin, that goes 25 years, two general managers, two coaches. They’ve had a lot of continuity, and when you have continuity like they have in their organization, they really haven’t changed defenses much over that same quarter of a century. So, as a scout, I mean I could scout for the Steelers.

“They do the same thing, they stay with it so you know what kind of players they’re looking for at each position. They have a very extensive scheme through their continuity. They do quite a bit in terms of the volume of their plays that you have to defend. But they can do them because they’ve been doing them over and over again, and they have a lot of the same guys doing them.”

While Ben Roethlisberger won’t be playing this Sunday, Belichick insists the Steelers are still an offensive threat with Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and DeAngelo Williams.

“Offensively, it’s really all the same guys here for the last couple of years,” Belichick said. “They’ve lost a couple of guys, like Heath Miller’s not there. But the guys that are there have pretty much been there [for a while]. Or guys like James who have come up through the system over a couple of years. Maybe he’s got a little more playing time but it’s not like he’s new to their system. Same thing on defense. A lot of continuity.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Stephen Gostkowski has missed a kick in three straight games. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)FOXBORO -- At times, being an NFL kicker is one of the toughest jobs in all of sports.

Mike Tomlin and the Steelers ruled Ben Roethlisberger out on Tuesday. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

Mike Tomlin and the Steelers ruled Ben Roethlisberger out on Tuesday. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger injured his knee in Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins.

Instead of perhaps having the Patriots guess for a few days with who would start at quarterback this Sunday, the Steelers officially ruled Roethlisberger out on Tuesday and named Landry Jones the starter.

“We’re a transparent group. We don’t hide. We are who we are,” Steelers coaching Mike Tomlin said on a conference call with New England reporters on Wednesday. “He had a surgical procedure to address his knee issue so to eliminate any potential questions or distractions regarding his availability and get firmly focused on the task at hand with the man playing quarterback that’s playing quarterback this week. That’s the approach.”

Another topic that came up on the call were technological issues on the sidelines.

The Patriots had trouble this past Sunday and the last time the two teams met, the Steelers had issues when they heard the Patriots’ radio broadcast over their headsets during the Week 1 matchup in 2015 at Gillette Stadium.

“We’ve had some technological issues on the sidelines, particularly in recent years, so that’s nothing new,” Tomlin said.

The Patriots enter the game 5-1, while the Steelers are 4-2, but are expected to be without Roethlisberger for 4-6 weeks after surgery on Monday.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Matthew Slater lays out the plans to help victims of Hurricane Matthew Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Matthew Slater took to the podium on Wednesday to talk about the Steelers and where he thinks the Patriots stand after six weeks.

But before hand, Matthew the special teams captain had an announcement about an initiative to help victims of those affected by another Matthew.

Hundreds of people were killed in Haiti by Hurricane Matthew earlier this month and thousands were affected in both Haiti and the Carolinas, specifically North Carolina where he and his wife, Shahzrad, have family.

“My wife and I will be hosting an event Oct. 25, next Tuesday, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. It’s called Matthew vs. Matthew and the idea behind this is, we have family in the Carolinas and living up here in the Boston area, we’ve met a lot of people that have ties to Haiti.

“Hurricane Matthew has obviously had a devastating effect on a lot of people so we wanted to do something that would provide some relief efforts for the people affected by this. The event is at Splitsville, right up here at Patriot Place, next Tuesday; a lot of the guys [will be there].”

The website for more information about the event next Tuesday is matthewvsmatthew.org.

“We’ll have some great auction items and it’ll be a great time, but most importantly, every penny we raise will go directly to an organization called ‘Samaritan’s Purse.’ That’s already on the ground in the Carolinas and in Haiti,” Slater added. “They do tremendous work. It’s an organization I’ve had a long-standing relationship with. I can’t take the credit for this. This is my wife’s idea, but it’s something I wanted to let you guys know [about] and get the word out there.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — Tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle), linebacker Jamie Collins (hip), linebacker Elandon Roberts (ankle) and wide receiver Julian Edelman (foot) were among the 10 players limited in Wednesday’s practice, the team announced Wednesday afternoon.

Collins missed last Sunday’s win over the Bengals because of the hip issue.

Julian Edelman

Julian Edelman

FOXBORO — Tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle), linebacker Jamie Collins (hip), linebacker Elandon Roberts (ankle) and wide receiver Julian Edelman (foot) were among the 10 players limited in Wednesday’s practice, the team announced Wednesday afternoon.

Collins missed last Sunday’s win over the Bengals because of the hip issue.

The news of who is on the list is just as big as who isn’t on the injury report: tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had been suffering from hamstring issues and a stomach bug this year, is not on the first one of the week.

Here’s the complete list.

Tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle)
Running back Brandon Bolden (knee)
Linebacker Jamie Collins (hip)
Wide receiver Julian Edelman (foot)
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (right shoulder)
Defensive lineman Woodrow Hamilton (shoulder)
Linebacker Shea McClellin (concussion)
Wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell (hamstring)
Linebacker Elandon Roberts (ankle)
Defensive lineman Vincent Valentine (back)

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — Do the Patriots stand any chance of losing this weekend in Pittsburgh without Ben Roethlisberger? Bill Belichick is getting his team ready and amped for Heinz Field. WEEI’s Mike Petraglia and Ryan Hannable have your preview.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Tom Brady says he can be even better than he has this season. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady says he can be even better than he has this season. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — After being suspended the first four games of the season because of his Deflategate suspension, Tom Brady hasn’t missed a beat in his first two games back.

The quarterback is 57-of-75 passing with 782 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions, while leading the Patriots to two blowout wins. Even with those numbers, Brady believes he can play better.

“I’m still trying to just get back into the kind of football shape that I need to be in,” Brady said. “Being here for two weeks has been great and the practices and so forth have been really good for me. I just need to have another good week. There’s no way to really replicate the kind of intensity and duration of what a practice is, and then certainly what a game is, when you’re not doing those things. It’s been good to be able to do those things for the last couple of weeks, but there’s a long way to go and this will be another important week for that.”

Brady has done a good job of getting everyone involved in the offense. He’s been successful with short, quick passes, but also has seen an improvement with his deep passes, including going 4-for-4 on passes that traveled more than 15 yards in the air in Sunday’s win over the Bengals.

The 39-year-old takes pride in forcing the defense to defend the entire field and not focus on one thing.

“You have to be able to make them defend the width of the field, the length of the field,” Brady said. “Ernie [Adams] told me, he once told me, ‘Make them defend every blade of grass.’ I think that’s a great thing to do. They’ve got to be able to – that’s how you stress the defense. You can force the ball to all different parts of the field, and they never really know who’s going to get it. They can key on certain players, but if you do that, you’re vulnerable to other things.

“It’s just part of – it’s good to have kind of a lot of tools in your toolbox and to be able to use them at different times. Whatever you need, that’s what you’ve got to pull out and be able to do. Good offensive execution takes all 11 of us and so much of what we practice is us all being on the same page every play, every day, every week, so we can be our best. We’re going to need it. This team really forces you to have every guy on the same page because it’s hard to anticipate what they’re going to do, because they do so many things. We’ve got to be on the high alert.”

In the regular season, Brady has a 8-6 career record against Pittsburgh.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — It appears the NFL has responded to Vontaze Burfict’s actions against the Patriots last Sunday.

Tom Brady and the Patriots don't have a true AFC rival right now. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)FOXBORO — For the last 15 years, the Patriots have had no shortage of challengers who have made life at the top more interesting.