"It's just execution," quarterback Tom Brady said. "It's guys getting open and us completing it. There's no special thing that we do. There's no magic dust we put in our cereal in the morning or anything like that. We just played really well. That does pretty well against any defense."
In five regular-season games against the Steelers, Brady has a 4-1 record and has completed 68.1 percent of his passes for 1,686 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions. His 104.1 passer rating is his highest against any team he's played at least five times. Brady is also 2-0 against the Steelers in the playoffs, when he has completed 26 of 39 passes (66.7 percent) for 322 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
In Brady's last three regular-season games (all victories) against Pittsburgh, he's completed 93 of 130 passes (71.5 percent) for 1,121 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception.
Of course, when approached about the subject, Brady immediately deflects the attention toward the Steelers' Halloween romp of the Pats in 2004. Thing is, that was such a long time ago, and the Patriots' offense has changed drastically since then.
Brady's success against the Steelers might have to do with Pittsburgh's consistency with its defensive scheme, and who can blame them for that? It's helped them win two of the last six Super Bowls, and they've been ranked in the top 10 in total defense for the last 11 years.
Against the Patriots, though, that consistency can be confused with one of two things — stubbornness, or a straight-up matchup problem. Generally, the Steelers can get after the quarterback as well as anyone, and that has made up for their subpar cornerback play through much of the last decade.
But Brady has been excellent at reading Pittsburgh's blitzes and picking apart the zone coverage to the outside. Aside from safety Troy Polamalu's freewheeling ability — and, sure, that's a big aside — there's a lot of vanilla behind Pittsburgh's front seven, and it's easy for a smart quarterback to pick it apart. Just look at what Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers did in the Super Bowl.
Unless the Steelers come up with a more complex game plan, expect Brady and the Patriots to continue their run of success Sunday in Pittsburgh — if they execute, of course.
"I think we realize the kind of challenge that it is [facing Pittsburgh], and we put a lot of time into the preparation," Brady said. "We put a lot of effort into understanding what we're trying to accomplish from a game-plan standpoint, and then we've executed well."