FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Temperatures were in the 30s this morning, and a light rain was falling, so when Bill Belichick arrived for his Wednesday morning news conference he had his winter coat and hat in hand. He set them down, stepped to the podium, and opened his remarks by saying it felt like the Patriots were playing a division game this week.
Of course, that isn't the case. The Steelers play in the AFC North, but this will mark the 10th time in Belichick's 14 years as coach that the Patriots face them.
A few soundbites/nuggets from a rather chipper Belichick that caught our attention:
Nate Solder the scout team QB? When asked about how the Patriots might prepare for the challenge of bringing down Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (6-foot-5, 241), Belichick went the unconventional route. "Let [left tackle Nate] Solder take some plays back there at quarterback, let him be the scout team quarterback for a few plays. That’s what it’s like," he cracked.
Bad memories of Heath Miller. When Belichick brought up Steelers tight end Heath Miller as a big receiver, a few follow-up questions were asked about Miller's style of play. When it was mentioned to Belichick that Miller hurt the Patriots in a 25-17 loss to the Steelers at Heinz Field on Oct. 30, 2011, the coach smiled. "He killed us. I mean, everybody hurt us in that game. ... Thanks for reminding me, I’d forgotten all about it."
What links the Steelers and Patriots. Asked if he was surprised the Steelers are 2-5, Belichick said he doesn't see a team reflective of its record. "They beat Baltimore, which is a good win. It’s something we didn’t do last year. They beat the Jets; it’s something we didn’t do two weeks ago. They were in a bunch of close games that could have gone either way," he said. "When you look at them, I think you see a good football team that’s kind of like us; we’ve been in a lot of close games. We’ve won more than we’ve lost, they’ve lost more than they’ve won, but a couple plays one way or the other in any of those games and you could have a big swing in what a lot of teams’ records are. But that’s the league."
Tom Brady's running skills. In recapping a key play in the Steelers' 21-18 loss to the Raiders on Sunday -- quarterback Terrelle Pryor's 93-yard run -- Belichick confirmed that the Patriots won't be attempting to duplicate it. "I’m sure they’re not worried about us doing that, even after Tom’s [Brady] fourth-down run [against the Dolphins]," he cracked, before fielding a follow-up question on Brady's running skills and keeping his answer lighthearted: "He doesn't run often, but when he does, it's usually the right play. It certainly catches the defense and our coaching staff by surprise when he does that."