How do we hate the Patriots?

Let us count the ways.

Did acrimony take root on Jan. 27, 2002, when punt returner Troy Brown scampered 55 yards across Heinz Field for a touchdown en route to New England’s 24-17 upset of the Steelers in the AFC championship game?

Maybe it was when Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch blew by Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend three years later for a 60-yard touchdown reception in New England’s 41-27 win in the AFC title game. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s sensational rookie season ended with three interceptions and a shower of Hines Ward tears as the Patriots again denied the Steelers a trip to the Super Bowl.

Later came the Spygate scandal – allegations that the Patriots illegally videotaped signals from the Steelers and other teams.

Deflategate accusations that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, considered a “pretty boy” by many Steelers fans, used underinflated footballs during a win in the 2015 AFC championship game against Indianapolis on the way to the Patriots’ fourth Super Bowl title certainly added to the contempt.


Eileen Flinn, an attorney and diehard Steelers fan, said she believes the cheating controversies coupled with a tinge of jealousy account for our hatred.

And, make no mistake, the hatred is real.

“Yes, the evidence that I know about and the reports support that cheating occurred,” she said. “The sad thing is the Pats had the talent and didn’t need to cheat. But they knew they could get away with it and had the attitude that they could do whatever they wanted.”

There’s also the reality that the Patriots are just good. Since 2000, the Patriots are 23-9 in the postseason with four Super Bowl victories.

“They build through the draft and trading,” Flinn said. “(Coach) Bill Belichick has a genius mind when it comes to strategy. They do a great job of finding the right players to plug in, season after season. Yeah, there’s envy there.”

Thanks to star wide receiver Antonio Brown and the Facebook Live video he streamed this week, we know Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin possesses a little extra disdain for the Patriots.


Dr. Benjamin Davies, a Steelers season-ticket holder, didn’t object to Tomlin’s off-color language. His contempt for the Patriots runs deep.

“It’s 99 percent jealousy – they have been so dominating over us and everybody else,” Davies said. “But you’re also just not quite sure that they are playing it straight. Spygate. Deflategate.

“Do you remember when we cut LeGarrette Blount and they immediately picked him up? That little jerk! He wound up getting a ring. Things like that annoy me.”

Jaime Dillen-Seibel’s bitterness began after the 2002 AFC championship game.

“My family snagged Super Bowl tickets,” he said. “We had the hotel and travel all planned out. My favorite band, U2, was playing at halftime.”

Then the Patriots won.


“We watched every second of that team celebrate on our field,” said Dillen-Seibel. “My trip of a lifetime to the Super Bowl went straight down the drain. Watching and hearing that team gloat walking off the field is something I’ll never forget.”

Sara Gorney doesn’t necessarily care for the Steelers. She’s from Buffalo and a lifelong Bills fan. But she sure does hate the Patriots.

“They cheat. Brady whines,” she said. “Bill Belicheat! Their fans whine. My hate for them is passionate.”

Gorney will join Steelers fans on Sunday in cheering for an upset. Pittsburgh is a 51/2-point underdog.

“I think the Steelers better watch the film of what the Texans did to Brady,” she said of Houston’s playoff loss to the Patriots last weekend. “Did you watch that game? If Houston had an offense, they would have beaten them.”

From the New England perspective, Pittsburgh’s hatred for the Patriots seems to be tied to the recent and distant past, Boston Globe sportswriter Chad Finn said.


During the Brady-Belichick era, the Patriots are 9-2 against the Steelers with Brady at the helm.

“Many of the games have seemed like the Patriots could do what they want at will offensively,” Finn said. “Troy Polamalu was a wonderful player, and there wasn’t a Brady pump-fake he wouldn’t fall for.”

There’s also the realization that Brady and Belichick have won four Super Bowls together, matching what Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw and coach Chuck Noll accomplished during the 1970s.

“The Steelers stood alone with that claim. It was arguably the coolest thing about their dynasty, that they had the same coach and QB for the whole run,” Finn said. “The Patriots have infringed on that, and with one more Super Bowl win, they’ll surpass it. It doesn’t take a lot of searching to understand why Pittsburgh would have a lot of issues with the franchise we have up here.”

All this negativity gave rise to the question of whether Steelers fans dislike the Patriots more than the rival Baltimore Ravens. Opinions were mixed.

“I don’t hate the Ravens,” said Flinn, the attorney who grew up in Pittsburgh. “They’re our rival, and I have respect for them, knowing each game is going to be a tough, old-school fight in the trenches. They also seem to respect us.


“The Pats don’t respect us. It seems like nobody can touch Tom Brady during a game – he’s a fragile snowflake, and you’ll get penalized if you get near him. There’s nothing you can do about it.”

Davies disagreed.

“Oh, I hate the Ravens much more,” he said. “There’s nothing about the Ravens I like. I don’t like their colors. I don’t like the players, their smiles. Nothing. I have a little bit of respect for the Patriots, despite my dislike of them.”

Dillen-Seibel views the Ravens differently.

“I respect the way the Ravens play ball,” he said. “I hate them for it, but they play the game the right way. The Pats play the underdog card and carry themselves in the most arrogant, self-entitled way. It’s fake to me.”

Steelers fans might be surprised to learn that their New England counterparts actually respect the Steelers, the Globe’s Finn said.

“There’s respect for the three superstars on offense – Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown – and some curiosity about how Belichick will attempt to contain them,” he said. “The Patriots should be the favorite – they were the better team this year, and it’s played here – but there should be no embarrassment in the outcome for the Steelers if it goes according to form.”

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