The game is a rematch of Kansas City’s 36-10 thumping of the Steelers on Dec. 26. And, based on Pittsburgh being a 12.5-point underdog, the expectation from prognosticators is that the Chiefs will overwhelm the Steelers once again. That fact wasn’t lost on Ben Roethlisberger, who used self-deprecation when asked about his team’s role as decided underdog.
“We haven’t discussed it, but I would assume as a group you understand that we probably aren’t supposed to be here,” Roethlisberger said on Wednesday. “We’re probably not a very good football team. Out of the 14 teams that are in, we’re probably number 14. We’re double-digit underdogs in the playoffs. So, let’s just go play, have fun and see what happens.”
Roethlisberger offered a similar answer when asked about the difference between being an underdog in the playoffs to being the favorite. Unlike this time around, the Steelers were favored and at home the last three times they entered the postseason.
“We’re probably 20-point underdogs, and we’re going to the No. 1 team that’s won the AFC the last two years,” Roethlisberger said. “Arguably the best team in football. We don’t have a chance, so let’s just go play and have fun.”
Sarcasm aside, Roethlisberger said that he has spoken to his younger teammates about the heightened importance of taking care of the football in the postseason. He added that he has also stressed the importance of playing fast, free and having fun. The Steelers, after all, weren’t even supposed to be in this situation after a 1-3 start and needing to win and have several other things fall in their favor in Week 18.
But things did fall in place for the Steelers, who also took care of their own business by coming from behind to defeat the Ravens in overtime. At 9-7-1, the Steelers made the playoffs for the 12th time in Roethlisberger’s 18 season as Pittsburgh’s quarterback.
“It’s special,” Roethlisberger said this postseason opportunity. “I think no one knew if we were going to be here. I didn’t know if I would be talking to you guys again. … I just try to never take it for granted and enjoy every minute of it, because we don’t know if we’ll be here next week.”
Roethlisberger was part of one of the most improbable playoff runs in NFL history. In 2005, the Steelers won the Super Bowl as a sixth seed, while sending Jerome Bettis out as a champion in his final season. Similarities have already been made between that team and the current Steelers team. Roethlisberger is not ready to make any comparisons.
“I don’t want to take anything away from this team, but that was a pretty good football team,” Roethlisberger said. “We had some Hall of Famers on it and stuff. Not that we don’t have some really good football players here. We have a long way to go to compare ourselves to that team, in my opinion.”
Roethlisberger has an idea of what would need to happen in order for this Pittsburgh team to have a chance at being compared to the 2005 team, starting with Sunday night’s game in Arrowhead Stadium.
“There’s going to be a storm, you have to weather it,” Roethlisberger said. “You hope you produce a little bit of a storm for them, too. … We’re just going to go out and play carefree, and whatever happens, happens.”