To say the 2021 NFL season has been an eventful one would be an understatement. Between an ever-changing COVID landscape, mixed with unforeseen injuries and an additional week, this season was certainly different than what we’ve ever seen before. But with that said, this season meant, or should I say means, something different to Pittsburgh Steelers fans. This began back in the offseason, when long-time quarterback Ben Roethlisberger adjusted his contract to allow the Steelers to extend TJ Watt. This indicated the 2021 season could be Roethlisberger’s last and as we enter the final 2 weeks of the season, this is becoming more and more true. As he does every week, Roethlisberger took some time with the media before Thursday’s practice. Of course, he was asked about his future first and commented on the last home game of the season. Nevertheless, this doesn’t eliminate the fact that this week’s game versus the Cleveland Browns is a must-win game. Even though this is going to be an emotional game for Roethlisberger, he is still focused on the matchup this week:
“The emotions will start to kick in,” he said. “They already have when you think about it. But I think I’m able to put those emotions on the back burner because of the focus we have to win this game. This is a team that’s hungry. I mean, it’s the Browns, the division opponent, so they’re hungry to come in and get a win, too.”
Roethlisberger knows this game is critical for the Steelers’ playoff hopes for this season. After a historic 18-year career, the last thing he wants to do is end it in a regular season game. That fire was evident in the way he talked about the matchup on Monday night:
“I want to win the football game. That’s all that matters to me. That’s always been my thing,” he explained. “I found out last week I’ve got 91 wins in Heinz Field and broke a tie with Brett Favre for quarterbacks in one facility. To me that will always mean more than yards and touchdowns. Wins, because that’s- I am sure you can go back to my very first press conference with some of you guys that were here, all I ever said I want to do is win.” Roethlisberger continued in saying, “And that’s what is most important to me, and so that is what’s going to be most important. I don’t care if it’s 3-0. I just want to win a football game, because it’s so important for our season right now.”
Roethlisberger knows the Browns aren’t just going to come in and roll over. They are coming in to play spoiler to the Steelers’ playoff run and Roethlisberger knows that. With this being a divisional game, there is some extra motivation behind this week’s matchup:
“It’s an AFC North opponent. It doesn’t matter which of the ones we’re playing. It’s a (AFC) North opponent,” he proclaimed. “We’re still in it. I know if they pull up the polls, we’re on the outside of it, but if we win two, we take care of our business, and I know some things have to happen and we have a chance to have another home game.” He finished in saying, “It’s always special to play these guys. Monday Night Football, everyone will be watching. There is always a little extra juice when it’s AFC North football.”
The Steelers are set to take on the Browns on Monday night on ESPN. Assuming this is Roethlisberger’s final game in Heinz Field, let me be one of many to say, “Thank you, #7. It’s been a fun ride.”
Do you think the Steelers can get to the playoffs? What is your prediction for Monday night? Let us know in the comments!