When the Steelers 2004 run ended in the AFC Championship game at the hands of the New England Patriots, it seemed like the eventual Super Bowl champions simply dominated Pittsburgh. However, some of the Steelers players still believe to this day that there were more nefarious things going on.
Multiple times, players have talked about it feeling like the Patriots knew the plays before they even snapped the ball. There were cues and such that tipped players off about that. Hines Ward, for example, has talked on record that he feels the Patriots cheated.
“When we played [New England] in the championship games, we would audible, and the whole defense switched to the side that we were running,” Ward said. “I just don’t understand how [the Patriots] knew all our audibles, all our signals.”
In the following years, Spygate, Deflategate, and other scandals would embroil the Patriots, which seemed to intensify those feelings. To this day, some of the players on that team still don’t let it go. Offensive tackle Barrett Brooks is one of those players. Appearing on Legal Hands to the Face Podcast, Brooks discussed that game. He pointed out the same things Ward did, and players such as safety Rodney Harrison seemingly knew what they were doing right from the jump.
“We get to the AFC Championship and that’s where all that Spygate stuff came in,” Brooks said. “First off, they were supposed to be sick, had 20 guys with the flu, but came in and whooped us. But I remember in that game, they knew the plays before we did.”I could hear all of those guys, Rodney Harrison, would yell ‘draw, draw, draw’, and Ben comes to the line and calls a draw play….Tedy Bruschi knowing the play, ‘they’re gonna sprint to the right’ and then shift the whole defense over. Because they knew our plays before it happened. They cheated me out. I should have two Super Bowls. We were supposed to be in that Super Bowl with the Eagles. They cheated better than we did, I’m mad at our coaches they didn’t cheat as well as they did.”
Spygate did happen, and it has been confirmed that the Steelers suffered at their hands because of it. The Steelers were one of the victims of the plot, as it was later unearthed that the Patriots had two tapes of Pittsburgh from their 2002 meeting in the AFC Championship Game. Barrett is the latest player to bring up the 2004 AFC Championship game within the scandal. Given the track record at the time, it seems possible that did happen.