The New England Patriots will begin the defense of their Super Bowl XLIX championship this week when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers in primetime on Thursday night. The Patriots are the last team to defend their title after winning back-to-back Super Bowls in 2003 and 2004.
This week's game is the NFL's 14th consecutive Kickoff celebration to start the season and the 11th time the NFL has saluted the Super Bowl champions with the opening game in their stadium on a Thursday in primetime. As part of the Kickoff events leading up to Super Bowl XL 10 years ago, the NFL incorporated musical performances from Los Angeles (home to the first Super Bowl), Detroit (host of Super Bowl XL) and New England (which won Super Bowl XXXIX).
The NFL's Thursday Night Kickoff tradition began in 2002 and the defending Super Bowl champions has hosted every year since 2004. The Patriots won the first two such contests. New England defeated Indianapolis, 27-24, on Sept. 9, 2004 and Oakland, 30-20, on Sept. 8, 2005 in Thursday games at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots will open the season at home for the first time since 2010, when they hosted the Cincinnati Bengals in the home opener.
NFL KICKOFF WEEKEND & CHAMPIONSHIP MOMENT
This is the 14th consecutive Kickoff celebration to start the season and the 11th time the NFL has saluted the Super Bowl champions with the opening game in their stadium on a Thursday in primetime. As part of the Kickoff events leading up to Super Bowl XL 10 years ago, the NFL incorporated musical performances from Los Angeles (home to the first Super Bowl), Detroit (host of Super Bowl XL) and New England (which won Super Bowl XXXIX).
Prior to Thursday's kickoff, the New England Patriots will celebrate their Super Bowl XLIX Championship with a special pregame ceremony. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 8 p.m.
The Patriots and Steelers will square off for the 28th time overall, including 23 regular season meetings and four postseason meetings, two of which were AFC Championship matchups.
This week's game will be the fifth meeting at Gillette Stadium and the third time that the two clubs have squared -off in the season-opener.
The last time the two teams played in the opener, the Patriots posted a 30-14 win in the grand opening of Gillette Stadium on Monday Night Football on Sept. 9, 2002 against the Steelers.
The last time the two teams played was on Nov. 3, 2013, when the Patriots beat Pittsburgh, 55-31, at Gillette Stadium.
New England owns a 3-1 record against the Steelers in the postseason and Pittsburgh holds a 14-9 advantage in the regular season.
The teams played in the AFC Championship Game following the 2001 and 2004 seasons, with the Patriots winning both times en route to Super Bowl titles. The teams played in the divisional round in 1996 and 1997. The Patriots beat Pittsburgh, 28-3, at Foxboro Stadium en route to their Super Bowl XXXI appearance. Pittsburgh beat the Patriots the following season, 7-6, at Three Rivers Stadium.
Overall Record, 12-15
Home Record, 4-4
Gillette Stadium, 3-1
Foxboro Stadium, 1-3
Away Record, 8-11
Heinz Field, 4-2
Three Rivers Stadium, 4-9
Bill Belichick vs. Pittsburgh, 9-9 (7-3 with New England)
Mike Tomlin vs. New England, 2-3
TWO OF THE TOP TEAMS
The Patriots and Steelers are at the top of the NFL charts in several categories since the 1994 season.Read
TOTAL VICTORIES SINCE 1994 (INCL. POSTSEASON)
New England Patriots 253
Green Bay Packers 233
Pittsburgh Steelers 228
SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONSHIPS SINCE 1994
New England Patriots 4
Baltimore Ravens 2
Pittsburgh Steelers 2
Green Bay Packers 2
Denver Broncos 2
N.Y. Giants 2
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS SINCE 1994
New England Patriots 7
Pittsburgh Steelers 4
PLAYOFF VICTORIES SINCE 1994
New England Patriots 24
Pittsburgh Steelers 17
DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIPS SINCE 1994
New England Patriots 14
Green Bay Packers 11
Pittsburgh Steelers 10
PATRIOTS ON THURSDAY
The Patriots will be playing on Thursday for the 14th time in team history and for the third time as part of the NFL's Kickoff. Five of the Patriots' Thursday games were played on Thanksgiving (1984, 2000, 2002, 2010 and 2012).
BELICHICK ON THURSDAY
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will coach in his 11th game on a Thursday, including his 10th with the Patriots. Belichick is 8-2 all-time when coaching on Thursday, including 3-1 on Thursday Thanksgiving games and 7-2 as head coach of the Patriots in Thursday games.
Tom Brady has played against Pittsburgh seven times in the regular season and twice in the postseason. He owns a 5-2 regular-season record and a 2-0 postseason record after two AFC Championship wins at Pittsburgh following the 2001 and 2004 seasons. Brady is a perfect 3-0 against the Steelers at Gillette Stadium after wins in 2002, 2007 and 2013.
NEW ENGLAND TIES
FORMER NFL TEAMMATES
FORMER COLLEGE TEAMMATES
2015 NFL KICKOFF WEEKEND
The NFL's Thursday Night Kickoff tradition began in 2002 and the defending Super Bowl Champion has hosted every year since 2004. The Patriots won the first two such contests. New England defeated Indianapolis, 27-24, on Sept. 9, 2004 and Oakland, 30-20, on Sept. 8, 2005 in Thursday games at Gillette Sta- dium. The Patriots will open the season at home for the first time since 2010 when they hosted the Cincinnati Bengals in the home opener.
NE VS. PIT IN SEASON OPENER
The last time the Patriots played Pittsburgh in the season-opener was in 2002 in the grand opening of Gillette Stadium, a 30-14 win on Monday Night Football when the Patriots were coming off their first Super Bowl win.
BRADY ON OPENING DAY
Tom Brady is 11-2 as a starting quarterback on opening day, the best record among any quarterback on opening day in the Super Bowl era.
This week's game will be broadcast by NBC and can be seen locally on WHDH Channel 7 in Boston. Al Michaels will handle play-by-play duties with Cris Collinsworth as the color analyst. Michele Tafoya will work from the sidelines. The game will be produced by Fred Gaudelli and directed byDrew Esocoff.
This week's game will be broadcast to a national audience on Westwood One. Kevin Harlan and Boomer Esiason will call the game.Ross Tucker will report from the sidelines.
98.5 FM, The Sports Hub, is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network (view affiliates). Play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci will call the action along with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who will provide color analysis.
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