Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger believes the Pittsburgh Steelers are "like the little brother trying to keep up with" the New England Patriots.
The Patriots are playing in their seventh Super Bowl since the arrival of head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady in 2000.
New England have achieved this incredible feat in part to a recent thumping of the Steelers.
The Patriots have won six of their past seven games against Pittsburgh including last month's AFC Championship game. Since 2001, the Steelers have played New England three times in the AFC title game, and have lost every time by a combined 40 points.
While Steelers fans have grown to loathe Brady and Belichick, Roethlisberger thinks differently ahead of New England's showdown with the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI on Sunday.
"I'd say there's more respect than a hatred," Roethlisberger told Pittsburgh native John Calipari on the Kentucky basketball coach's podcast, Cal Cast.
"There's divisional hatred, Baltimore and us, Cincinnati and us, but I don't think there's a hatred there.
"We've played [the Patriots] now twice in my 13 years in the championship game, my rookie year and this year. ... Obviously, they've gotten the better of us twice in the championship game and kind of had our number, so we're like the little brother trying to keep up with the big brother in a sense."
The Patriots have had a lot of teams' number, not just the Steelers. But Pittsburgh's memories of the latest disappointment are still fresh.
"Every mistake is magnified. ... When we played in that championship game, they didn't make very many mistakes," Roethlisberger said, echoing his belief that the moment might have been too "overwhelming" for younger players.