2021 South Side Questions: Is This Ben Roethlisberger’s Final Game?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is underway, and they are hoping for a better outcome in comparison to last season. After starting out 11-0, they finished the year 1-4 in the regular season, and then lost in the Wildcard Round to the Cleveland Browns, ignited by a 0-28 first quarter.

They have lost a large number of key players in the offseason, like Maurkice Pouncey, Bud Dupree, Alejandro Villanueva, David DeCastro, Mike Hilton, and Steven Nelson, but they’ve also made significant additions as the months have gone on, notably Trai Turner, Melvin Ingram, Joe Schobert, and Ahkello Witherspoon. They also added Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Kendrick Green, and Dan Moore Jr., all of whom are starting.

There isn’t much left to do but to play the games at this point. Even if they play them poorly. They still have a lot to figure out, though, such as what Matt Canada’s offense is going to look like in any given week, or how the new-look secondary and offensive line is going to play.

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.

Question: Is this Ben Roethlisberger’s final game?

The Steelers enter the day two-score underdogs as they get set to face the second-seeded Kansas City Chiefs, a team that beat them 36-10 just weeks ago in a game that really wasn’t even as close as the score indicates. It was 23-0 by halftime and 30-0 by the time the Chiefs stopped trying.

The Steelers are fortunate to have even reached the postseason with a 9-7-1 record (after all, they missed out on the postseason in 2018 with a 9-6-1 record). They are 12-point underdogs based on the betting lines, give or take, and that’s probably about how most people feel the game will go.

But how will the game actually play out on the field? The Chiefs are one of the most experienced postseason teams over the past three years, playing in eight games during that span, with three conference finals appearances, two Super Bowl appearances, and one championship. In the same span, the Steelers have played one postseason game, in the opening round, in a blowout loss.

But there are few players in NFL history as experienced in the postseason as Ben Roethlisberger, who will have to conjure up something special tonight in order to stave off elimination. He is still capable of stepping up in those weighty moments and making a play, as attested to by his seven game-winning drives this year.

If the Steelers can keep the game close until late, protect the ball, and make a few splash plays here and there, there’s a chance there is a date for a rematch with the Titans next weekend. If not, we’ll be saying goodbye to one of the most important players in the history of the franchise. No pressure.

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