Well, they somehow did it. By some wonderful twist of fate, the Pittsburgh Steelers have found themselves as the seventh seed in the 2021 NFL playoffs. But with that seventh seed comes the hardest path to the Super Bowl of any other AFC team. But if you are like me, you think back to a very similar scenario in 2005. A last-seed team, having to win on the road three times to get to a championship to allow a respected veteran player finish on top. That full description can be used as a preface for the upcoming tournament and the city of Pittsburgh is feeling a similar buzz. But with that said however, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t see it that way and isn’t taking this for granted. In a “bonus” week, he met with the media before Wednesday’s practice to talk about what is going through his head as an official playoff team:
“We probably aren’t supposed to be here. We’re probably not a very good football team,” he admitted. “Out of 14 teams that are in, I think we’re probably at number 14. We’re double-digit underdogs in the playoffs. So, let’s just go play and have fun and see what happens.”
In full honesty, this is probably the right mindset to have at this point in the year. Looking back to a year ago, it seemed like the Steelers played not-to-lose to the Cleveland Browns as opposed to the new “let’s just go play and have fun and see what happens” mentality. We all know what happened last year. Hopefully this year we will feature a different result. This year’s offense hosts a multitude of rookie talent at almost every level, so they weren’t around last year after the hurtful loss to the Browns. As seeming to consistently be a participant in the playoffs, Roethlisberger was asked about how he is preparing the younger players this week for their first playoff experience:
“I want to just pass along my words of wisdom to them,” he explained. “It’s one of those things where you never really know if you’re going to get a chance to get back. And when I tell them that they look at me like well, you’ve been here 12 times in 18 years. I just try and reiterate to them that you just got to appreciate it, you got to understand it. You have to go out there and just fully commit everything to it because every mistake is magnified. But you got to have fun at the same time so hopefully they’ll they all understand. I think they do.”
Roethlisberger went onto explain, “It’s like I tried to tell some young guys, every mistake is magnified. Even the third down drop can be magnified because the other team you’re playing is a really good football team too, so they capitalize on your mistake. I’ve been in a lot of these games where the team that makes the fewest mistakes is going to win. You just try and tell those guys that listen, we got to go out there and you got to play free and have fun, play football but understand that it does get a little bit faster and that the intensity does pick up.”
The first-round opponent is no easy feat in the Kansas City Chiefs. The Steelers lost to the Chiefs 36-10 back in Week 16 and are looking to not repeat that same result. Although that was a mere three weeks ago, both the Chiefs and Steelers have gotten healthier since then on both sides of the ball. Included in that was Pat Freiermuth, who missed the last contest due to a concussion. Being such a large component of the offense, Roethlisberger is glad he’ll have his favorite tight end this go-around:
“I don’t think Pat played in the first one and we’ll see what happens. They had guys not playing on their team either. I’m sure both teams will be close to full strength as you can get at this time of year. We’ll just go and hopefully we keep it close.”
The Steelers are set to square off against the Chiefs in the Wild Card round on Sunday night. Stay with us as we follow this week’s game preparation!
What are you looking for in practice this week? Do you think the Steelers have what it takes to move onto the divisional round? Let us know in the comments below!