Speaking to the media before practice on Wednesday, Ben Roethlisberger answered several questions about facing the Super Bowl Champions to open the 2019 season. This Sunday will be the first game with this set of teammates in order to begin another championship run. Entering his 16th season, Roethlisberger was asked if he still gets nervous before the game or if he channels other emotions instead.
“I’ll get nervous I’m sure,” Roethlisberger answered. “I think it’s probably just as much excited nervous as just nervous. We’re going up there. I’m sure they’re dropping a banner or whatever they are going to do. What an exciting and awesome opportunity for us all.”
When it comes to opening the season against the Patriots, the Steelers have been used to meeting them later in the year. The Steelers have only played New England once before Week 7 in the nine regular-season match ups since Mike Tomlin took over as head coach in 2001. When asked about opening up against New England rather than playing them late, Roethlisberger noted they have been matched up in Week 1 in the past before discussing the challenges of playing the Patriots.
“I think we have done it before,” Roethlisberger stated. “Like I said, it’s not fun. They’re the best for a reason- coaches and players. It’s not like we’ve had a problem with them. The league’s had a problem with them. They’re that dominant. I’ve said it before, playing them at home is hard enough. To go to their place is almost impossible. I guess the only positive is it’s not an AFC North team. ”
Roethlisberger seemed to be up to the task when asked about the challenge coming into the very first game.
“Yeah, no one’s got a win, and no one’s got a loss. They are the world champs and we have to go to their place and do our best.”
While the Steelers are 3-7 in their last ten meetings with the Patriots, they are 1-0 in the last calendar year. Roethilsberger was asked if there was any meaning to be the last team to defeat New England in the 2018 season.
“I didn’t think about that. It’s pretty cool. Anytime you can beat the Patriots it’s pretty cool.”
When Roethlisberger was asked about if he enjoyed watching the 42-year old Tom Brady from the sidelines, he quickly steered his response to discuss what he wants to see from watching his own players and not the opposition.
“Well, I want our defense to get after that guy,” Roethlisberger said. “But it’s an honor to share the field with arguably the best of all time. It’s humbling and fun to watch. I just want him to have his worst game against us because our defense is getting after him.”
One of the many challenges facing the Steelers Sunday night is dealing with the extra emotion from the championship ceremony prior to kickoff. When asked about staying focused through the banner raising, Roethlisberger spun the thought process from the Patriots 2018 accomplishments to the Steelers goals for the 2019 season.
“I think it’s cool to be a part of, honestly. You go out there, and you watch it, and you sit there and try to channel it to say, ‘Okay, that needs to be us next year.’ That’s the way I look at it.”
Roethlisberger was asked if the hype and emotions of the match up on Sunday compared to other AFC North match ups.
“It’s the first game of the year. They’re the world champs. We’re just trying to get to where they have been. It’ll be exciting for all of us. I know the crowd will be excited- Sunday Night Football, it’s not a one o’clock game. All those things add up to an exciting night.”
While watching the New England Patriots celebrate their sixth Super Bowl championship will feel like a punch to the gut for both the Steelers’ players and fans, it is mildly appropriate to have those two teams standing on the field to begin the season in pursuit of their seventh championships. So on Sunday night, let the race begin.
Ben Roethlisberger’s full interview can be seen here: