I Can Get Behind Ben Roethlisberger's Sarcasm

(Image from Steelers.com)

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I think I have finally recovered enough from the emotional roller coaster ride on Sunday to talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers again.  The scenario for them to make the playoffs played itself out perfectly, but not without a lot of distress along the way.  

The Steelers needed a win against the Baltimore Ravens, which they accomplished in a hard-fought battle, and a win by the Jacksonville Jaguars over the Indianapolis Colts, who were able to pull off the upset as 15 point underdogs.  After that, all that was left was no tie occurring between the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers in the Sunday Night Football game.  Miraculously, and with some questionable decision making along the way, the Raiders broke the tie and won the game in the final second of overtime.  The Vegas win clinched a playoff berth for both the Raiders and the Steelers.  A truly welcome surprise considering the events that took place for it to come to fruition.

That all brings us to our current setting.  The Steelers head to Kansas City to square off with the Chiefs Sunday Night at 8:15 PM in the first round of the playoffs.  It was only three weeks ago that they endured a thrashing there, losing 36-10 in what could easily be classified as the ugliest game this team played all season.  While doing press yesterday for the game, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger got questioned about the upcoming rematch.   In his response, he said "We don't have a chance so, let's just go in and play and have fun."  The internet took this and ran, creating quite the frenzy online about the sincerity of it and its message.

While I must say I actually liked this response, I want to start off by emphasizing the sarcasm behind Ben's statement.  I've seen a lot of people wondering how a quarterback of an NFL franchise could actually say this.  I didn't think this needed explaining but an 18-year veteran of the league isn't going into the game believing they stand no chance.  This is the case of a player not giving the media or opposing team any bulletin board material that could be used against them.  I actually found it refreshing, a nice change from the canned answers we see ad nauseum for questions like this.

But I also like the comment for the message it is sending.  The Steelers are lucky to even be in the position they are.  To make the playoffs with a 9-7-1 record is quite the accomplishment in itself, and it shows.  They head into this game as one of the biggest underdogs in NFL playoff history, with the spread currently sitting at 12.5 points.  

Therefore, I can get behind the idea of the team going out and having some fun.  I mean after all, three weeks ago certainly wasn't very much fun for the team or fans.  So I appreciate Ben giving this lighthearted comment and keeping things loose.  There's no sense in putting any more pressure on the team by guaranteeing a win or anything of that nature.  By being fortunate to sneak into the playoffs, expectations on them are already low and they can use that to their advantage.  They have nothing to lose and should play as such. 

While the internet was busy critiquing Ben for his comments, I took it as a positive.  This team is preparing to beat the Chiefs and to think otherwise based on his comments is ridiculous.  But I think it also shows that this team is preparing much differently heading into this week than they did the first time around.  They are well aware that what they thought might work three weeks ago clearly did not, so it's time to go back to the drawing board.  And Ben's comments make me think they may have something up their sleeve.  Maybe I'm just overanalyzing it, but Ben being coy like this is a good sign in my eyes.  

We'll find out if that is actually the case or not on Sunday, but I'm not ready to rule them out yet.  The playoffs are a completely different animal than the regular season, where you're going to get each team's very best.  While the Steelers have won their two games since that drubbing, I certainly wouldn't say that we've seen their best during them.  They know that they need to step their play up in this difficult matchup.  

With a locker room full of veterans with playoff experience, I think they'll be much more prepared this time around.  And we can't forget that everyone was writing off quarterback Patrick Mahomes and this high-powered offense earlier this season after some poor performances.  The Chiefs have shown cracks all season long, so I'm excited to see if the Steelers are able to identify and exploit them Sunday.  Contrary to what he said, Ben believes this team has a chance on Sunday, so I don't see why I shouldn't think so either.