There aren’t too many quarterbacks who have been to more postseasons, or participated in more postseason games, than has Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Sunday’s game will mark his 12th postseason overall, and his 23rd start in a postseason game, trailing only Tom Brady (46), Peyton Manning (27), and Brett Favre (24), and drawing to a tie with Joe Montana.
For the moment, he has a 13-9 postseason record, including five appearances in the conference finals, three appearances in the Super Bowl, and two Super Bowl titles. Again, there aren’t too many other quarterbacks against whom you can stack up his career accomplishments.
But what he’s achieved in the past doesn’t help his team now, and that’s a mindset he’s taken into every season for years, only reinforced the older he gets, and he tries to communicate the magnitude of every opportunity to his younger teammates, especially in a year like this when they were counted out.
“It’s special. No one knew if we were going to be here and didn’t know if I’d be talking to you guys again and I’m lucky I get to talk to you guys again”, he told reporters yesterday about making it into the playoffs. “All these things we’re lucky we could do. Another week of meetings, another week of practice, another week of working out together. All this stuff. And so, and 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”.
This will be his final postseason, and if they fail to win, Sunday will be the final game of his career. He likely entered this past Sunday expecting that game to be his last, as they needed help in two other games in order to advance beyond winning themselves, and that didn’t seem likely going in.
After a disastrous first quarter to open the Wild Card Round last season against the Cleveland Browns, digging a 28-0 hole, Roethlisberger knows they have to play clean football this time around against a team like the Kansas City Chiefs. Last year, they were the second seed. This year, they’re playing the second seed.
“I would assume as a group you understand we’re probably not supposed to be here”. he said earlier. “We’re probably not a very good football team. Out of 14 teams that are in, we’re probably number 14. We’re double-digit underdogs in the playoffs. So let’s just go have fun in the playoffs and see what happens”.
He says that not because he believes it, but because he knows that’s how they’re seen—something I’ll touch on a bit later in the day. On the outside, they’re viewed as playing with house money. Internally, while they understand they’re fortunate to be able to play this week, they’re still expecting to be able to win this game and keep it going.