Hating the Patriots at Both Ends of Pennsylvania

Eagles fans will be disappointed if the Patriots prevail on Super Bowl Sunday –– Steelers fans could be devastated.

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The Steelers didn’t make it to the Super Bowl, but they’re still poised to be the big losers Sunday in Minneapolis.

The Eagles, who are actually playing in the game, have something to lose, too, but that’s nothing new. The Eagles have lost the Super Bowl before. The Eagles have lost a Super Bowl to the Patriots before.

If Philadelphia survived Rocky II, III, IV and V, it can handle being denied one more time on the NFL’s grandest stage.

It’s not as if the citizenry is going to become any more ill-tempered, foul-mouthed or poorly behaved.

The ramifications at the other end of the Commonwealth are potentially much more devastating.

The Steelers’ quest to climb that Stairway to Seven this season was about protecting the franchise’s identity, it was about all-time Lombardi Trophy superiority at least as much as it was about winning another NFL championship.

“They’ve won more than anybody else has,” defensive coordinator Keith Butler observed of the Steelers’ organization prior to the start of the playoffs. “I want to keep it that way.”

He was talking, of course, about Lombardis.

The 2017 Official National Football League Record and Fact Book lists Green Bay at No. 1 under “Most Seasons League Champion” with 13.

The Chicago Bears are No. 2 with nine, and the New York Giants are third with eight.

But the Packers have only won the Super Bowl four times, as have the Giants, and the Bears have only done it once.

Apparently, all of those pre-Super Bowl championships won by other teams aren’t recognized by the Steelers.

“It’s emblematic of being the best franchise in the history of the NFL,” Butler continued. “Everybody wants that.

“Super Bowls are they way you measure it.”

As it tuns out, it’s not just Steeler Nation that remembers history so selectively.

The Patriots are of the same mindset, according to Mike Florio of Profootballtalk.com and NBC.

“The Patriots will never admit this but I am very confident that they are obsessed with catching the Steelers at six and passing the Steelers with seven, especially if they can say, ‘We did it all with the same head coach and the same quarterback,’’ Florio observed during a recent visit with the DVE Morning Show.

“They don’t share those desires publicly, but privately they are very motivated by that.”

The Steelers were just as motivated –– just as privately, but motivated all the same –– to maintain their advantage by keeping the Patriots at bay.

The Steelers had considered themselves, among other things, the guardians of the realm, the defenders of the faith.

But now the barbarians are at the gate.

And only the Eagles are in the way.

They’ll make a game of it, perhaps even threaten to beat New England, as Atlanta had done last season, as Jacksonville did for a while in the AFC Championship Game.

But eventually, the Eagles will punt the ball back to Tom Brady with about two minutes remaining, give or take, and the natural order of things will take its course.

It’ll be the Eagles against the Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

But it’ll also be the Patriots against the Steelers.

And ultimately, the confetti is going to fall on Brady and Bill Belichick.

And James Harrison.

And there’s no longer anything the Steelers can do about that.

Categories: Mike Prisuta’s Sports Section