AFC Championship: Steelers at Patriots

BEN VOLIN | ON FOOTBALL

Steelers have forged a stiffer defense since first meeting

Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison sacks Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

orlin wagner/AP

A lot of the improvement is the result of 38-year-old James Harrison getting back into the lineup.

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/18/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/94a56f20a6264033b84c7cc29ab50700-94a56f20a6264033b84c7cc29ab50700-0.jpg Roethlisberger responds to Edelman’s comments by praising Steelers owners

“We’ve got the trophies out there. I’ve got owners that I think are the best in the business,” the Steelers QB said Wednesday.

FILE - In this Oct. 23, 2016, file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, right, and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, left, visit on the field after an NFL football game in Pittsburgh. A clip from Showtime's

Ben Roethlisberger speaks with admiration for Tom Brady

The Steelers quarterback even got a jersey from Brady the last time the teams met.

DAN SHAUGHNESSY

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/17/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/shaughnessy1-11116.jpg What are you afraid of, Roger Goodell?

You’re the NFL commissioner, defender of the Shield — you can put up with a few boos at Gillette Stadium.

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/18/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/631782278-11169.jpg Steelers’ Antonio Brown apologizes for locker room video

Brown created a distraction for his team by streaming disparaging remarks by Steelers coach Mike Tomlin about the Patriots.

JANUARY 23, ,2005: PITTSBURGH, PA: Corey Dillon of the New England Patriots celebrates after winning the AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. GLOBE STAFF PHOTO/JIM DAVIS Library Tag 01242005 Playoff Extra cp

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Expect another heavyweight fight when Patriots and Steelers kick off

The AFC’s two most dominant teams over the past 16 years are both eyeing a record ninth Super Bowl appearance.

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/17/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/davis_hit2_spts.jpg What’s it like to be the photographer run over by an NFL player?

Matthew J. Lee, a Globe photographer who was knocked over by a Texans player Saturday, shares his tale.

10/03/16: Foxborough, MA: Nate Solder of the New England Patriots is pictured as he talks about Sunday's loss to the Bills during a locker room availability this afternoon at Gillette Stadium. (Globe Staff Photo/Jim Davis) section: sports topic: Patriots(3)

Patriots notebook

Patriots’ Nate Solder wins award for courage

Solder’s son has cancer, and it has put football in perspective for him.

Alex Speier

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/17/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/Grossfeld17.jpg Do the Patriots improve after ‘ugly wins’?

The stats paint an interesting picture of how the Patriots perform following games with three or more turnovers.

Chad Finn

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/17/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/loganint-001_hor.jpg It’s time to acknowledge the Patriots’ defense

The defense — the secondary in particular — determined Saturday’s victory over the Texans.

Chad Finn

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/17/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/riddick150-11134.jpg Louis Riddick still feels impact from playing for Bill Belichick

The ESPN NFL analyst played defensive back for Belichick while both were in the Cleveland Browns organization.

Boston, MA -- 11/18/2016 - Boston Celtics Isaiah Thomas reacts as he comes off of the court against the Garden State Warriors at the end of the fourth quarter of the game at TD Garden. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff) Topic: Celtics Reporter:

Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Globe straw poll: Isaiah Thomas leading media All-Star voting

Media and players combine for 50 percent of the vote, giving Thomas a chance to be a starter.

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/17/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/5658794d0f2f42f48d75e8daa20724cb-5658794d0f2f42f48d75e8daa20724cb-0.jpg Here’s Isaiah Thomas’s NBA All-Star ballot

The Celtics guard shared his picks for both conferences with the Globe.

Black & White Daily -- 1990: MONTREAL EXPOS OUTFIELDER TIM RAINES ROUNDS SECOND BASE DURING THE EXPOS VERSUS SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS GAME AT CANDLESTICK PARK IN SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA. -- Library Tag 03292002 Baseball 2002

Allsport file

Hall of Fame prospects look good for Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell

Based on disclosed ballots, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, and Ivan Rodriguez also are trending well.

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 17: Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Brooklyn Nets reacts after he is hit in the face by DeMar DeRozan #10 of the Toronto Raptors in the first quarter at the Barclays Center on January 17, 2017 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

NBA roundup

Plummeting Nets lose 11th straight

The Nets have not won since Dec. 26.

Sports Log

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/18/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/bc833d5a51f249ccaf9d29fbd8df79f1-bc833d5a51f249ccaf9d29fbd8df79f1-0.jpg Jose Bautista, Blue Jays agree to $18 million deal

The 36-year-old slugger tested the free agent market, but is staying in Toronto.

Boston, MA 1-16-17: The Bruins did not get a shot by Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss, even here in the third period with Boston's David Krejci on top of him and the puck flying by in the third period. The Boston Bruins hosted the New York Islanders in a regular season NHL hockey game at the TD Garden. (Globe Staff Photo/Jim Davis) reporter: dupont topic: Bruins-Islanders

jim davis/globe staff

Bruins try to regroup after dispiriting loss to Islanders

In lieu of practice, the players tried to “recharge their batteries,” said Patrice Bergeron, and move forward.

PETER ABRAHAM

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/10/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/cherry_15davidprice04_spt.jpg A few postscripts from David Price

As part of his recent in-depth interview, the Sox lefty talked about leadership, his teammates, and David Ortiz the dad.

australian open

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2017/01/17/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/05723883.jpg Novak Djokovic holds off Fernando Verdasco in first round

Defender aims to be the first man to win seven Australian Open titles.

FILE - In this April 5, 2016, file photo, New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano stands in the bench during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals in Washington. The struggling islanders fired Capuano on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, ending his tenure in the middle of its seventh season. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

nhl roundup

Islanders fire coach Jack Capuano

Doug Weight takes over as interim replacement.

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