KYLE HIGHTOWER, AP Sports activities Author
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The New England Patriots have had what looks like an annual spot within the AFC championship recreation over the previous decade.
However the truth that this yr’s recreation is at house might issue into whether or not they’re able to make a return journey to the Tremendous Bowl.
The Patriots turned the primary workforce because the 1970 merger to advance to the AFC title recreation in six straight seasons with their win over the Houston Texans final week.
The Patriots are 5-1 at residence in AFC championship video games, with their lone loss coming in 2013 towards the Ravens in Ray Lewis’ ultimate journey to Foxborough.
Whereas being at house doesn’t assure victory, enjoying the sport at Gillette Stadium is welcomed by a group that has been on the street in two of their previous three journeys to the AFC title recreation. Each of these street video games led to losses to Denver, together with a 20-18 defeat final season.
“It’s the power. You get on the market and everybody is actually energetic. The followers are actually intense,” receiver Chris Hogan stated Tuesday.
“On the finish of the day, it’s one other soccer recreation, and I simply need to strategy it like that, simply the best way I’ve been approaching each single recreation this yr. Go on the market, play my greatest, play good soccer and attempt to assist this group win as a lot as I can.”
Particular groups captain Matt Slater acknowledged that New England’s efficiency towards the Texans might have been higher, however stated nobody is taking something without any consideration about this newest shot at a Tremendous Bowl berth.
“Anytime you win a playoff recreation, whether or not you play nicely or not, should you win the sport that’s all that issues,” Slater stated.
“I feel all of us recognize the chance that we have now. Might we’ve performed higher? Definitely. However we may be at residence.”
The Steelers — and coach Mike Tomlin particularly — can anticipate to get an much more hostile reception than standard from the Patriots followers.
This comes after Tomlin was broadcast utilizing a derogatory expletive to explain the Patriots throughout a postgame speech to his workforce following Pittsburgh’s divisional-spherical win over Kansas Metropolis.
Unbeknownst to Tomlin, the speech was aired on a social media livestream by Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown.
Tomlin apologized for his use of “regrettable” language on Tuesday. However he stated he’s not apprehensive about it having an impression on his staff’s preparations this week.
“We’re within the AFC championship. You aren’t going to creep within the again door of New England…