It’s not every Sunday that we see matchups against two quarterbacks that we know are going to go into the Hall of Fame shortly after they retire, but that is what we got on Sunday between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots in a battle between Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady.
And of course the final score was just 17-10, because that’s what you expect from a pair of Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Next week will be another such pairing when Roethlisberger and the Steelers visit the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees, who is in the process of breaking everybody’s records.
Roethlisberger doesn’t play Brees much, but he has much more familiarity with Brady, and frankly, the Patriots, let’s just say, tend to have the edge in the head-to-head matchup. That’s something Big Ben and the Steelers can’t help but be aware of.
When he was asked about it during his radio appearance on Tuesday, he acknowledged that there is something to it. “Well anytime a team beats you way more than you beat them, you definitely want to go get them, so yeah, it means something. I mean, they’re kind of the team that everyone wants to beat all the time, so when you beat them, it makes you feel a little more special”.
Still, he added, “winning at home at this time of year, you just want to get a win against anybody”. The Steelers were just 3-3 at home this season heading into Sunday’s game against the Patriots, if I’m not mistaken, and Roethlisberger among other players such as Ramon Foster have talked about the frustration of losing at home in 2018.
And truthfully, the home crowd probably played as big of a role in Sunday’s victory at Heinz Field as they have played in any other for about a decade. Many who were actually present at the game have a hard time citing a more enthusiastic crowd they’ve experience in the stadium since the 2008 playoffs against the Baltimore Ravens.
Of course, as much as it might mean a little something extra for a competitor like Roethlisberger to score a victory over Brady, it’s likely that it means even more to the fans, who are frequently more invested in specific rivalries and things of that nature than the players are themselves.
The Steelers needed this victory, obviously, for practical purposes, but I think the fans wanted this one, more than all but perhaps only a few regular season games in recent years. Especially after the Steelers were so close to victory—and homefield advantage—against the Patriots a year ago.