September 11, 2002
FOXBORO, Mass. -- The printout hanging in Ty Law's locker showed seven ex-players turned broadcasters picking the Steelers to beat his Patriots.
Maybe their minds -- and many more -- will be changed by New England's 30-14 domination Monday night of the team touted by many as the AFC's best.
"People want to still talk, you saw what they're going to get," free safety Lawyer Milloy said.
The Steelers weren't convinced the Patriots were better either before or after New England beat them for the AFC title in Pittsburgh.
Not even a Super Bowl win quieted the doubters, or the oddsmakers who made Pittsburgh a three-point favorite.
"We love being the underdogs and come out and proving people wrong," Law said. "Everybody's talking about respect, respect. We know what type of team we are so we don't need anybody to pat us on the back."
Those pats would be justified for a championship team whose offseason improvement showed in the season opener at new Gillette Stadium.
Tom Brady threw touchdowns to three newcomers -- Christian Fauria, Donald Hayes and Deion Branch. Safety Victor Green, who played last season with the Jets, recovered a fumble that he forced -- the first one Jerome Bettis lost in 760 carries.
And there was old reliable Adam Vinatieri, who won the Super Bowl with a last-play field goal, going 3-for-3.
Defensively, the Patriots allowed 217 yards and forced five turnovers until the final drive when Kordell Stewart scored on a 1-yard run.
"I didn't understand it, save face or whatever you want to call it," Law said. "The only thing that matters is a win or loss."
Including last season's playoffs, the win was the 10th in a row for the Patriots -- all with Brady at quarterback.
"We didn't lose this one. We got whipped," Steelers receiver Plaxico Burress said.