The Pittsburgh Steelers found a way to get into the playoffs. It was a rocky road, which involved a good amount of assistance, but the 9-7-1 club is the No. 7 team and headed to Arrowhead Stadium for a rematch of the Week 16 shellacking by the Kansas City Chiefs.
As you can imagine, there aren’t many who are giving the Steelers a shot vs. the Chiefs in this AFC Wild Card matchup, but it can also equate to Pittsburgh entering the game with a carefree mindset. No, it doesn’t mean the team and coaches don’t care, but the pressure certainly isn’t on them to win this game. The pressure is on the 12.5-point favorite Chiefs to hold serve at home.
As the Steelers put their plan in place to go up against one of the best teams in the conference, there are many who are talking about the Steelers playing with “house money”. For those not familiar with the term, this refers to the Steelers not having any pressure to win the game.
Wednesday when meeting with the media Ben Roethlisberger was asked about the team’s approach, and if the feeling of playing with “house money” was accurate.
“We haven’t discussed it, but I think, I would assume as a group you understand that we probably aren’t supposed to be here.” Roethlisberger said when considering the team’s unpredictable, and often disappointing, season. “We probably are not a very good football team. Out of 14 teams that are in, we’re probably at number 14. We’re double-digit underdogs in the playoffs. So, let’s just go play and have fun and see what happens.”
Believe it or not, there were many Steelers fans who took Roethlisberger’s comments at face value, when if you watch/listen to the interview Roethlisberger was certainly sarcastic by saying the Steelers aren’t a very good football team.
The future Hall of Fame quarterback continued, this time pointing to the fact the Steelers are double-digit underdogs heading into Kansas City.
“Yeah, I mean we’re probably 20-point underdogs.” Roethlisberger exaggerated. “And we’re going to the number one team that’s has won the AFC the last two years. Arguably the best team in football. We don’t have a chance. So, let’s just go in and play and have fun.”
At this point, if you are still taking Roethlisberger’s comments literally, you aren’t very familiar with the quarterback’s style heading into a game where the Steelers are being doubted or considered nothing more than a side note.
But outside of the playing up the underdog role, there is the fact of the team winning for Roethlisberger. Similar to the way the 2005 Steelers won one for Jerome Bettis, could this group find a way to get Roethlisberger past the Chiefs to live another week? Roethlisberger didn’t seem too concerned about that, instead just offering up wisdom to his teammates about the playoffs and how they are never guaranteed.
“Yeah, they do.” Roethlisberger said about the team wanting to win for him. “And I want to just pass along my words of wisdom to them. It’s kind of one of those things where you never really know if you’re going to get a chance to get back. And when I tell them that they look at me like well, you’ve been here 12 times in 18 years. So I just try and reiterate to them that you just got to appreciate and understand it. That you have to go out there and just fully commit everything to it because every mistake is magnified, but you got to have fun at the same time. Hopefully they all understand, I think they do.”
There have been moments throughout this season where this young Steelers team hasn’t just looked overmatched, but out of place, especially on the road. As the 7th seed, there are no more home games on the schedule, no matter how far they go in the AFC Playoffs. If the team doesn’t clear those cobwebs early in this game, the result would be eerily similar to the Week 16 game at Arrowhead Stadium. If they can weather the initial storm, they have shown the ability to win tough, one score contests.
No one is giving the Steelers a chance, and hopefully their “house money” bet pays dividends in a playoff road win. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Chiefs this Sunday in the AFC Wild Card round.
For more on this topic, I spoke at length about this on the Wednesday “Let’s Ride” podcast, check it out below: