Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier has his sights set on kicking the Patriots off their throne. On Thursday, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler asked Shazier whether the Steelers had a “Patriots problem,” to which Shazier replied, “The NFL has a Patriots problem.”
The Patriots have been to seven Super Bowls since 2001, winning five of them. They’ve also only missed the postseason twice in that span.
It’s a problem that Shazier and the Steelers are eager to solve.
“I feel we are going to get them when we need to get them. And at any day, I feel we can win the Super Bowl. We might have had a problem in the past, but I think we are going to be ready this time.”
The Steelers made it all the way to the AFC Championship last season, only to lose to the Patriots 36-17 in a game that was never really close. Pittsburgh hasn’t beaten the Patriots since the 2011 regular season, so there’s no question the Patriots have to be a nagging pain for the Steelers.
It’s no coincidence that Shazier and the Steelers are feeling confident right now, though. His comments come on the same day that the Pittsburgh Penguins visited Steelers practice and brought the Stanley Cup — arguably the nicest piece of hardware in professional sports.
The team was impressed by the trophy, to say the least:
We have a special guest at practice‼️— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 15, 2017
Welcome to the South Side, Stanley. pic.twitter.com/uzs4Io2QVU
Head coach Mike Tomlin said himself that the Steelers were motivated by the Penguins’ recent success:
Tomlin on if the @steelers are inspired to get their own championship after the #Pens win: "No question. We gotta get that first one first." pic.twitter.com/UYCxjc0qby— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) June 15, 2017
“That’s Lord Stanley,” Tomlin said. “That’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it?”
He added, “Hopefully we represent Pittsburgh and Western Pa. in a similar way here in a few months.”
The Steelers, who finished with the No. 3 seed in the AFC last season, feel the Patriots are the final “obstacle” they need to get over. Shazier isn’t the only one confident they can do that.
Cam Heyward added, “We want the goal to be the No. 1 seed.”
While on board with the message, Tomlin was a little more reserved. “If we want our dreams to unfold in a manner in which we envision them, we have to respect [the process],” he said.
The Steelers have the talent to compete at a high level. They were one game away from the Super Bowl last season but only have so much time left with Ben Roethlisberger, who is on the back end of his career.
The Steelers haven’t won a Super Bowl since 2009 and haven’t made an appearance in the big game since 2011. It doesn’t seem like a long time, but for a franchise that has won six titles, it seems like a drought — one the 2017 Steelers are set on ending.