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Steelers' Mike Hilton ready for Patriots' Rob Gronkowski in massive size mismatch

Chris Adamski
| Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, 5:54 p.m.
Steelers defensive back Mike Hilton returns an interception against the Titans in the first quarter Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers defensive back Mike Hilton returns an interception against the Titans in the first quarter Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, at Heinz Field.

One of the tallest and most effective pass-catchers in the NFL, matched up against … the Steelers' shortest player?

“I know one thing,” diminutive cornerback Mike Hilton said Thursday, “if that happens, I'm pretty sure the ball is going to come my way.”

And Hilton, the Steelers' first-year slot cornerback, also is “sure” that the New England Patriots will make that happen at least some when they play at Heinz Field on Sunday. Hilton can see the strategy in exploiting the matchup of a 5-foot-9 corner on 6-6 All Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski.

“Basing off what they do, they try to give you mismatches,” Hilton said. “They try to mix it up. And (Tom Brady) is one of the best quarterbacks — if not the best quarterback — to play the game. He will look that way. We know what to expect. It's just a matter of executing and not beating ourselves.”

Hilton is a big part of the Steelers secondary that was made over after Brady completed 76 percent of his passes for 384 yards and three touchdowns in the Patriots' blowout AFC championship victory against the Steelers in January.

So what will Hilton's approach be when he finds himself lined up across from — and looking up at — Gronkowski?

“I know he's a physical guy, so I feel like if I use my quickness and not let him get his hands on me, I will be able to break with him and have a chance to make a play,” Hilton said.

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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