At Gillette Stadium, Tom Brady is 5-0 against the Steelers, throwing 18 touchdown passes with no interceptions. The Patriots have averaged 36.6 points in those five games. AP Photo/Steven Senne

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Around New England, there’s been a lot of talk about the New England Patriots’ defense and how Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is going to have his hands full Sunday night trying to score on a unit that might be one of the best in the NFL.

The storyline is a bit different in Pittsburgh. It’s flipped around. It’s more about the Steelers’ defense and how it’s finally going to make Tom Brady miserable.

While the Steelers did beat the Patriots 17-10 at home last season, they remain haunted by Brady.

At Gillette Stadium, Brady owns the Steelers. He’s 5-0 and has thrown 18 touchdown passes with no interceptions. He’s completed 141 of 196 passes (71.9 percent) for 1,797 yards and has a passer rating of 130.85. The Patriots have averaged 36.6 points in those five games.

Given that, it sure seems like the Steelers are more bothered by the 42-year-old Brady and what he might do to them than the Patriots’ defense.

Years of torture tends to do that.

Brady, who is 11-3 overall against Pittsburgh, has lit the Steelers up so much that they revamp their defense every year with him in mind. This year is no different. They’ve rebuilt the defense with an eye on shutting down the six-time Super Bowl champion.

For starters, the addition of rookie linebacker Devin Bush (their top draft pick) and veteran linebacker Mark Barron should help shore up the passing lanes in the middle of the field. That’s long been an area where Brady has abused not only the Steelers but every opponent. Since Ryan Shazier’s injury, the Steelers have been especially vulnerable, so they moved up in the draft to land Bush at No. 10, and picked up Barron, a hybrid safety/linebacker, to cover in sub-packages.

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said the team was “familiar” with those players from film study.

“You don’t spend too much time guessing about what may happen because you could do yourself a lot of harm,” McDaniels said about what the Steelers might do differently with the new players. “What we know is we’re going to play a really good group on Sunday night that’s really well-coached.”

The Steelers also brought in free-agent corner Steven Nelson to pair with Joe Haden. Nelson, who was with the Chiefs last season, should be a better No. 2 than Coty Sensabaugh or Artie Burns.

The Steelers, who had the 23rd-best pass defense last season, believe they’re bringing a much improved unit into Foxborough after a preseason where they had 20 sacks and forced 10 fumbles, recovering six. Defensive coordinator Kevin Butler’s unit led the league in sacks in each of the last two seasons with defensive end Stephon Tuitt and outside linebacker Bud Dupree leading the charge. They’re convinced they’re even better this year.

“We have all the capability in the world, all the potential,” defensive end Cam Heyward told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We have a lot of speed, a lot of guys who can do a lot of different things that make us very flexible. But we’ve got to do it in real games. That’s what we’ll be judged on.”

The Steelers are ignoring the fact the passing game is one of the Patriots’ biggest question marks. They don’t seem to care if one of Brady’s chief accomplices, Rob Gronkowski, has retired and the Pats have no real tight end.

They’re ignoring the fact Brady’s favorite target, Julian Edelman, has a bum thumb, he has two rookies as threats, and Josh Gordon is still trying to round into game shape.

They’re at Gillette. Brady is still at quarterback. Enough said.

As for the man causing all the angst, Brady made sure to pay the Steelers a healthy dose of respect, even if he has their number at home.

“It’s a tough game to open with. The opener is always a tough game. There’s limited film to study. The team we are now is very different than the team we’re going to be in November, December. But they all count the same,” Brady said Tuesday on WEEI radio.

“We have to be as prepared as possible. We have to play a really clean game. This is a team that challenges you in a lot of different areas. It’s going to be a fun night … we have to play a great game. That’s what it takes against great football teams. And they’re one of the best in the league.”

PRACTICE REPORT: The Patriots are in good health.

Back on the practice field Wednesday in full pads, the Pats fielded every player on their roster four days out from the opener.

Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, tight end Matt LaCosse and safety Obi Melifonwu were listed as limited for the team’s padded practice.

The only absences – rookie wide receiver N’Keal Harry, and tight ends Ben Watson and Lance Kendricks – were expected. Kendricks and Watson are suspended, their returns scheduled for Week 2 and 5, respectively. Harry was placed on injured reserve Monday and can’t play until Week 9.

WIN A RING: The New England Patriots Foundation will raffle off an authentic Super Bowl LIII championship ring, featuring more than 400 diamonds set in white gold. The ring features the Patriots’ logo atop six Lombardi Trophies with the words “World Champions” on either side.

Raffle tickets are $10 each, five for $25, 50 for $100, or 500 for $500. Proceeds will benefit the New England Patriots Foundation, which supports charitable and philanthropic agencies throughout New England, with a focus on programs that aid youth and families by fostering cultural diversity, education, family and health.

The winner will be drawn Oct. 1 and will be contacted by phone and email later that day. Contestants must be 18 or older. To purchase tickets, visit

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