The Pittsburgh Steelers failed to rise to the occasion, and Big Ben knows it.
The Steelers’ season ended Sunday night when the New England Patriots handed them a 36-17 beatdown in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Pittsburgh simply didn’t cash in on its chances throughout the game, particularly in the red zone, and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger couldn’t help but wonder after the contest whether some of his teammates succumbed to the pressure of being one win away from the Super Bowl.
“I don’t know if that’s the one thing, but you have to score when they’re down there,” Roethlisberger told reporters after the game. “There were missed opportunities, whether we didn’t execute well enough, whether plays weren’t made by me or other guys. At times, it felt like maybe it was too big for some of the young guys.”
The Patriots were in control for much of the evening, and Roethlisberger’s logic makes plenty of sense, even if it’s somewhat surprising to see the two-time Super Bowl champion throw his teammates under the bus. The Steelers made several mistakes, and that simply won’t cut it against a team as good as the Patriots, who will face the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
“It’s a little frustrating,” Roethlisberger said. “We talk about how sometimes it’s just one play here, one play there. Tonight, we didn’t make those plays. Was (the moment) too big? I don’t know. We need to make every single play in a game like this, in a moment like this.
“Hopefully, this is a learning game for guys to understand this isn’t promised to anybody. Tomorrow isn’t promised. Just to make the playoffs isn’t enough. A lot of guys have been in the league for a long time and haven’t been to any of these. I hope they understand the importance and relish the opportunity if it comes again.”
Roethlisberger has enjoyed plenty of success throughout his NFL career, but the 34-year-old’s quest for another title came to a screeching halt in Foxboro, where the moment often can prove too big for New England’s opponents.
Thumbnail photo via James Lang/USA TODAY Sports Images