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PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers have had their struggles against New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in Foxborough.
The four-time Super Bowl winner has led the Patriots to three lopsided home victories against Pittsburgh and he's looking for another. He was cleared to play after a judge overturned the NFL's four-game suspension of Brady last week for his role in using underinflated footballs during last season's AFC championship game.
The Steelers' defense, even after a rough preseason, isn't putting much emphasis on past meetings with Brady.
Instead, the group welcomes the opportunity to open the NFL season Thursday on the road against Brady and the Super Bowl champions.
"It's a hostile environment that truly loves their team," Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward said. "We want to be able to go on the road and win games like that, so this is a great test for our team."
Brady spoke for the first time on Sunday since the "Deflategate" court ruling, noting that he's ready to move on and focus on Thursday's opener against Pittsburgh.
"It's time for me to do my job," Brady said. "Anything that's happened over the last seven months wasn't really my job."
He's had his way with the Steelers in the past, going 5-2 in the regular season, including a 3-0 mark at Gillette Stadium. Brady has thrown 18 touchdowns to just three interceptions with a QB rating of 109.7, third-best among any team he's faced.
"We've had some pretty good days in the past, but if we want to have a good outcome on Thursday night we're going to have to be at our best," Brady said.
The Patriots have been at their best against the Steelers at Foxborough when Brady's under center. The Steelers have never beaten Brady at Foxborough during his career, losing three times by an average of 20 points, including a 55-31 rout two years ago.
Heyward still remembers that one, a game that was tied in the third quarter until Brady and the Patriots reeled off 28 points in the final 15 minutes to pull away.
"It was a close game, but it comes down to one or two plays and that can really swing a game," Heyward said. "Our wheels really fell off after that."
The Patriots put up at least 30 points in each of Brady's wins against the Steelers at Foxborough. New England has averaged 458 yards and Brady passed for an average of 364 yards in those games.
This time, Brady will face a defense primed to rebound from a shaky preseason of giving up big plays and a lot of yards. All 11 starters weren't on the field at the same time, as the Steelers allowed 353 yards per game and average of 5.6-yards per play during a 1-4 preseason.
"We're not going to say this is more important than any other game," Heyward said. "It's the first game. We're just looking to put it all together on Thursday."
And also try to beat Brady for the first time in Foxborough.
"It's not the first time we played against somebody like that," Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons said. "We're the only game on that night, it's the defending Super Bowl champions in a hostile environment and we're just trying to start the season off right. We're looking forward to it."
NOTES: The Steelers placed C Maurkice Pouncey on reserved/injured, designated for return list and signed OL Doug Legursky. Pouncey is eligible to play Week 9 against Oakland. ... The team signed RB Dominique Brown, DB Jordan Dangerfield, OL Reese Dismukes and Antonio Johnson, LB L.J. Fort and Shayon Green, DE Ethan Hemer, WR Shakim Phillipps and Jarrod West and TE Harold Spears to their practice squad. ... The Steelers also signed RB Jordan Todman, claimed DE Caushaud Lyons and released fourth-round pick CB Doran Grant and sixth-rounder LB Anthony Chickillo. ... The Steelers also selected QB Ben Roethlisberger (offensive), Heyward and CB William Gay (defensive) and S Robert Golden as team captains.
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