FOXBORO Good defense, bad defense. It doesn't really matter.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the high-powered Patriots offense have been equal opportunity destroyers of defenses all season.
Even the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team whose defense has consistently been among the NFL's best for years, isn't immune to being lit up by the Brady bunch.
"It's just execution, guys getting open and us completing them," Brady said. "There's no special thing we do. There's no magic dust we put in our cereal in the morning, or anything like that. We just play really well, and that does pretty well against any defense."
Maybe so, but what makes New England's success so surprising is that much of it comes in the passing game -- an area where most teams struggle against Pittsburgh.
The Steelers come into Sunday's game with a defense ranked No. 3 in the NFL, and a pass defense that's giving up an NFL-low 171.9 yards through the air per game.
Meanwhile, New England counters with an aerial attack that's generating an NFL-best 350.5 yards per game.
And adding to the challenge will be the location: Heinz Field. It's a place where many a team has entered only to leave battered, bruised and defeated.
Brady admits that if the Patriots aren't careful, the crowd can become a factor.
"We always talk about, night before the game, in the meeting room, look around and say, 'This is all we got. This is all we need.' " Brady said. "If we make good plays, the crowd is not going to be a factor. If we don't, you better believe they'll be there all day long."
They certainly played a role in a 34-20 loss in 2004, the last time the Pats lost on Heinz Field.
"The better we play, the less factor they will be and there's less margin for error," Brady said. "You're playing in a place where you're very unfamiliar, and you're playing, they got their crowd noise, and they got a lot of energy is kind of, kind of focused on the home team."
As much as the Black and Gold fans will have their say, ultimately the game will be won -- or lost -- by the players on the field.
"Like in '08, we didn't play well and they kicked the crap out of us," Brady said. "In '04 they kicked the crap out of us. You gotta go in expecting to play our best game. If we don't, it's a long hard day. If we do, then we're confident we can get a win."