It’s impossible for the Pittsburgh Steelers to reach the postseason based entirely what they do in Heinz Field tomorrow. They need help in one direction or another in addition to winning their own game against the Cincinnati Bengals. But that doesn’t mean that they have to care what happens elsewhere.
That is the mindset of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as he heads into what may well be the final game of his 15th season in the league, having already set a new franchise touchdown record and sitting on the precipice of a 5000-yard season.
Roethlisberger has never been one for individual accolades, however, as he always reminds, so I’m sure he won’t take much solace in those numbers if it results in a season in which they are forced to stay home once the regular season draws to a conclusion.
In order to avoid such an outcome, the Steelers will have to depend upon either the Cleveland Browns beating or drawing with the Baltimore Ravens or seeing the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts play to a tie. In the result of the former, Pittsburgh would win the AFC North and hold the fourth seed. In the event of the latter and in the absence of the former, they would slide into the sixth seed as a wildcard.
When asked about that, Roethlisberger said, “we’ve got to win this football game. I don’t care about anything other than winning this football game because nothing matters if you don’t”. When asked if it was difficult to focus on, he said that it wasn’t. “It’s AFC North football. The last game of the year, at home. It’s 100 percent focus on the job at hand”.
One thing the quarterback is certainly right about is that the Steelers cannot do anything without winning the game against the Bengals. Or tying, technically. A 8-6-2 record would be treated at 9-7, so if the Ravens lose, they would both effectively be 9-7, and the Steelers would win the tiebreaker for the superior division record.
Still, while they must win their own game, they still need other things to happen in order for that win to mean anything, whether they control it or not, and that might be a good thing to be aware of. When asked how that information would be handled during the game, he said that it would probably be shown on the scoreboard, unless somebody didn’t want it up there.
“I don’t care” about the scoreboard, he said. “I don’t really care what’s going on outside of Heinz Field, because that’s all I control, so that’s all that matters to me”. He added, “I’m not worrying about the playoffs because we have to take care of business first”.
The NFL chose to push both AFC North games back to a 4:25 PM kickoff, so the Steelers cannot possibly know if they have anything to play for by the time they get started.