To say the least, the New England Patriots have had their way with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 21st century. Under Bill Belichick, the Patriots were 14-4 against the Steelers and 3-0 in AFC Championship Games (2001, 2004, 2016). Even without Tom Brady, Belichick led the Patriots to wins over Pittsburgh in 2022 and 2023.
Former Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman shed some light on why the Patriots dominated against the Steelers so often during a short video on his TikTok page Sunday morning.
“You knew what Pittsburgh, they do what they do,” Edelman said. “They’re going to put a linebacker on me?”
In the video, Edelman was ranking the toughest teams that he played in the playoffs during his career. He ranked the Steelers No. 3. In his career, Edelman was 6-1 against the Steelers. His lone playoff game against Pittsburgh was his best performance, as he caught eight passes on 10 targets for 118 yards (14.7 average) and a touchdown in New England’s 36-17 victory in the 2016 AFC Championship. In the regular season, Edelman had 34 receptions on 48 targets for 341 yards (10.0 average).
2013 and 2015 in Mile High still gives me nightmares. @WynnBET
It’s ironic that Edelman mentioned “that the Steelers do what they do” in covering wide receivers with linebackers as it’s been a constant issue in Pittsburgh, dating all the way back to Vince Williams and Jon Bostic. Fans also vocalized displeasure whenever Robert Spillane was caught in coverage against a receiver.
Pittsburgh haven’t had an elite coverage linebacker since Ryan Shazier. It seemed like they fixed that issue with the trio of Cole Holcomb, Kwon Alexander and Elandon Roberts at inside linebacker in 2023, but Holcomb and Alexander suffered seas0n-ending injuries in Weeks 9 and 10. Having a linebacker on a receiver frequently also speaks to schematic issues with the Steelers. But at large, coverage has been an issue for the linebackers.
Down the stretch, the Steelers linebackers had no answer for tight ends. From Trey McBride onwards, tight ends torched the Steelers up and down the football field on different routes. Nick Farabaugh of Steelers Now asked Roberts about the problem, and he did not answer well. From others, it was the canned ‘keep working’ answer.