New England Patriots vs Pittsburgh Steelers: Top 5 Games in Rivalry History

Scott SewellCorrespondent IOctober 30, 2011

New England Patriots vs Pittsburgh Steelers: Top 5 Games in Rivalry History

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    The Patriots and Steelers will match up against each other for the 26th time in NFL history on Sunday.  

    This is a game between two AFC heavyweight contenders and could become very important for seeding purposes as the playoffs approach.

    The Steelers lead the series 14-11 overall, but the Patriots have won seven of the past nine matchups.

    Both teams are currently in first place in their respective divisions, and both teams would likely drop into second place with a loss.

    This one promises to be a thriller.

    Let's take a look at the top five games in their history to help get in the mood for today's epic battle.

Pittsburgh 16, New England 13: Week 1, 1979 Regular Season

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    The Steelers and Patriots met on Monday Night Football in Week 1 of the 1979 season.

    Russ Francis caught a four yard pass from Steve Grogan in the first quarter to give the Patriots the early 7-0 lead.

    The Steelers quickly came back in the second quarter with a Sidney Thornton two yard touchdown run. They didn't convert the extra point, and the Patriots remained ahead 7-6.

    John Smith added a couple of second quarter field goals to increase the lead to 13-6.  The score would remain here until the fourth quarter when Sidney Thornton reached the end zone again, this time on a 21-yard pass from Terry Bradshaw.

    The game went to overtime, and Matt Bahr kicked a 41-yard field goal to give the Steelers the thrilling 16-13 victory.

    Terry Bradshaw threw for 221 yards and a touchdown, and John Stallworth caught five passes for 95 yards in the win.

Pittsburgh 27, New England 21: Week 4, 1981 Regular Season

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    The Patriots came into Week 4 struggling badly.  They were 0-3, and a battle with Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris was the last thing they needed.

    The Steelers quickly jumped out to a 21-7 lead behind two Franco Harris touchdown runs and a Bennie Cunningham touchdown reception from Terry Bradshaw.

    However, the Patriots wouldn't go quietly.

    Tony Collins had a 10-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, and Stanley Morgan followed that up with a 12-yard touchdown reception from Matt Cavanaugh to tie the game at 21-21 and send it to overtime.

    However, Terry Bradshaw connected on a 24-yard touchdown pass to Lynn Swan to give the Patriots the dramatic overtime victory.

    Bradshaw threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns, and Bennie Cunningham caught eight passes for 94 yards.

New England 24, Pittsburgh 17: 2001 AFC Championship

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    The Patriots had beaten the Raiders in the "Tuck Rule Game" the week before and visited Pittsburgh looking to advance to the Super Bowl.

    The Patriots took a quick 7-0 lead thanks to a Troy Brown punt return in the first quarter.

    Earlier in the season, the now legendary Tom Brady had taken over for Drew Bledsoe after Bledsoe missed much of the season with an injury.

    Bledsoe—with a 10-year, $103 million contract—was now the backup to Brady.

    Tragedy struck for the Patriots when Brady was injured early in the game, and they called on Bledsoe to try to lead them to victory.

    Bledsoe quickly completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to David Patten to give the Patriots a 14-3 lead.  That was followed up by a Blocked Field Goal touchdown return, and the Steelers would never recover.

    The Patriots won the game 24-17 and went on to beat the Rams in a thrilling Super Bowl.

    Drew Bledsoe threw for 102 yards and a touchdown, while Kordell Stewart threw for 255 yards and three interceptions for the Steelers. 

New England 41, Pittsburgh 27: 2004 AFC Championship

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    You just knew the 2004 AFC Championship would come down to Pittsburgh vs New England.  There just wasn't a way around it.

    Surprisingly, this one was barely a game.

    The Patriots jumped all over the Steelers early, and it was over by halftime.

    Deion Branch caught a 60-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady, and David Givens followed that up with his own nine-yard touchdown reception.  

    The Patriots were leading 17-3 when Rodney Harrison added an 87-yard interception return for a touchdown to give them a 24-3 lead into halftime.

    The Steelers offense finally awoke in the second half, but it wasn't enough to make the game competitive. The Patriots would win the game 41-27 and advance to the Super Bowl against Philadelphia.

    Tom Brady threw for 207 yards and two touchdowns, while Deion Branch caught four passes for 116 yards and a touchdown and also ran the ball twice for 37 yards and a rushing touchdown.

New England 23, Pittsburgh 20: Week 3, 2005 Regular Season

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    The Steelers were looking to get revenge in Week 3 for their beating in the AFC Championship game the previous season.

    Corey Dillon gave the Patriots a quick 7-0 lead in the first quarter, but Hines Ward answered with an 85-yard touchdown reception from Ben Roethlisberger to tie the game at 7-7.

    Pittsburgh led 13-10 heading into the fourth quarter when Corey Dillon added another rushing touchdown and Adam Vinatieri a field goal to give the Patriots a 20-13 lead.

    The Steelers answered back with yet another Hines Ward touchdown reception to tie the game at 20-20.

    The Patriots got the ball back with 1:21 remaining, and Tom Brady drove them down the field to the Pittsburgh 25-yard line, where Adam Vinatieri kicked through the game winning field goal with just one second remaining.

    Tom Brady was 31-41 for 372 yards and a touchdown.