Ben Roethlisberger: I’m Not Thinking About New England

Hallelujah. Ben Roethlisberger said what is on my mind. Maybe yours too.

Speaking with the PPG’s Brian Batko at his youth football camp this weekend, Roethlisberger was asked about what it takes to beat the New England Patriots. His answer was spot-on.

“No offense to the champs, but I’m thinking about Cleveland,” he said. “That’s our first game. You can’t think about last year, you can’t think about Week 12, 13, 14, 15, playoffs.”

Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner.

Beating New England is important. It is likely the key to getting the Steelers into the Super Bowl. But this offseason has been devoted to nothing but a peppering of Patriots questions, as if Pittsburgh is guaranteed another trip to the AFC Championship game.

It’s not just from this reporter, clearly. It’s been an onslaught of Patriots’ questions. How to beat them, how to stop them, if they’re good for the NFL.

All irrelevant questions for what matters first. The Steelers yearly goals aren’t to beat the Patriots. It’s to win the AFC North, secure home-field advantage, and win a Super Bowl. That will likely involve beating New England in the playoffs but Pittsburgh can’t get there if their focus and energy was spent entirely on Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. That isn’t a measure of stability. It’s a measure of OCD.

Roethlisberger went on.

“You’ve got to think about Week 1, and Week 1 is at Cleveland. That’s a division rivalry. And even before that, we have to worry about ourselves in training camp, get ourselves ready to go. We need to be the best we can be, and that’ll translate into good things on the field.”

I’m not minimizing the talent New England has. If anything, they’ve gotten stronger during the offseason, trading for Brandin Cooks, signing Stephen Gilmore, and the return of Rob Gronkowski. But the obsession with all things New England is, frankly, annoying, and counter-productive to the Steelers’ goals if they actually want to take another crack at beating them.

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