Ben: 'Let's just go play and have fun'

Ben Roethlisberger knows this week nothing is a given.

He knows if you listen to the so-called experts, the Steelers wouldn't even be playing this week in the Wild Card Round against the Kansas City Chiefs.

But they are in the postseason. They are preparing to take on the Chiefs. And they are going to be ready on Sunday night to get the job done, no matter what the 'experts' think.

"We probably aren't supposed to be here. We're probably not a very good football team," said Roethlisberger of the perception. "Out of 14 teams that are in, I think 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.

"We're probably 20-point underdogs and we're going to the team that's won the AFC the last two years. Arguably the best team in football. We don't have a chance. So, let's just go out and play and have fun."

Roethlisberger is well aware of how close the Steelers came to not being in the postseason. He was like the rest of us, staying up late on Sunday night and sweating it out when the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers went into overtime, and then the game was decided on a last second field goal.

"I wish I would have went to bed instead of staying up and the stress of it, but what a crazy game, crazy ending," said Roethlisberger. "You go into the evening excited about getting in and then your hopes start to dwindle there for a little while, and then the last drive you really think they're going to play for the tie.

"But there's other plans out there."

And those other plans have Roethlisberger and his teammates practicing today at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex preparing to take on the Chiefs, a team that defeated them in Week 16, 36-10, in a game where both teams were missing key components of the offense, with tight end Pat Freiermuth inactive with a concussion and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce inactive after not being able to be cleared to play with COVID.

Roethlisberger knows what the challenge is going to be like, but he is definitely looking for a better outcome this week.

"I hope so. I hope we don't go in and get blown out by 20 or 30 points," said Roethlisberger. "I don't think Pat played in the first one and we'll see what happens. They had guys not playing on their team either. I'm sure both teams will be close to full strength as you can get at this time of year. We'll just go and hopefully we keep it close."

To do that, it will almost need to be mistake-free football the team plays, and with a team that doesn't have a lot of playoff experience, Roethlisberger is reiterating that to them this week.

"It's like I tried to tell some young guys, every mistake is magnified," said Roethlisberger. "Even the third down drop can be magnified because the other team you're playing is a really good football team too, so they capitalize on your mistake.

"I've been in a lot of these games where the team that makes the fewest mistakes is going to win. You just try and tell those guys that listen, we got to go out there and you got to play free and have fun, play football but understand that it does get a little bit faster and that the intensity does pick up."

They also need to understand how special it is. Roethlisberger does. Sure, he has been to the postseason in 12 of his 18 seasons, but he gets it. He knows it's not a given. And he knows, like the way he wanted the team to win it all in 2005 for Jerome Bettis who was about to retire, that his teammates have a similar feeling towards him this year.

"I want to just pass along my words of wisdom to them," said Roethlisberger. "It's 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. I just try and reiterate to them that you just got to appreciate it, you got to understand it. 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 so hopefully they'll they all understand. I think they do."

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