Ben Roethlisberger: I’m Not Thinking About New England

Hallelujah. Ben Roethlisberger said what is on my mind. Maybe yours too.

Speaking with the PPG’s Brian Batko at his youth football camp this weekend, Roethlisberger was asked about what it takes to beat the New England Patriots. His answer was spot-on.

“No offense to the champs, but I’m thinking about Cleveland,” he said. “That’s our first game. You can’t think about last year, you can’t think about Week 12, 13, 14, 15, playoffs.”

Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner.

Beating New England is important. It is likely the key to getting the Steelers into the Super Bowl. But this offseason has been devoted to nothing but a peppering of Patriots questions, as if Pittsburgh is guaranteed another trip to the AFC Championship game.

It’s not just from this reporter, clearly. It’s been an onslaught of Patriots’ questions. How to beat them, how to stop them, if they’re good for the NFL.

All irrelevant questions for what matters first. The Steelers yearly goals aren’t to beat the Patriots. It’s to win the AFC North, secure home-field advantage, and win a Super Bowl. That will likely involve beating New England in the playoffs but Pittsburgh can’t get there if their focus and energy was spent entirely on Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. That isn’t a measure of stability. It’s a measure of OCD.

Roethlisberger went on.

“You’ve got to think about Week 1, and Week 1 is at Cleveland. That’s a division rivalry. And even before that, we have to worry about ourselves in training camp, get ourselves ready to go. We need to be the best we can be, and that’ll translate into good things on the field.”

I’m not minimizing the talent New England has. If anything, they’ve gotten stronger during the offseason, trading for Brandin Cooks, signing Stephen Gilmore, and the return of Rob Gronkowski. But the obsession with all things New England is, frankly, annoying, and counter-productive to the Steelers’ goals if they actually want to take another crack at beating them.

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • AndyR34

    Amen, Alex! I’m done with the Cheatriots…”on to Cleveland”!

  • Mark Stouffer

    Good answer. Tee Steelers need to ensure postseason before thinking about the Pats

  • dany

    Would be funny if the steelers don’t even see them in the playoffs, or worse they see them, win yet lose the superbowl

    Live in the moment

  • Rob H

    “Pittsburgh can’t get there if their focus and energy was spent entirely on Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. That isn’t a measure of stability. It’s a measure of OCD.”

    Well said, but good luck with getting a large segment of the fan base to understand or admit it.

  • WreckIess

    Thank you Ben. This will probably do nothing to calm the rabid insecurity of a good portion of the media and fan base(might even make it worse), but it’s still great to hear it from the man himself. Worrying about a game 5 months ago or 6 months from now is just idiotic at this point. Stop dwelling on them.

  • Jacob

    The offseason would have been a good time (especially for coaches and the management) to analyze and strategize and plan how the Steelers are going to get past the team that has kept them out of the Super Bowl every time they have met them in the playoffs.

    But yes, now that a new season is beginning the team needs to focus on one game at a time. Ben took the words out of my mouth.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    Speaking of teams NOT named the Patriots, I see the Titans being a potentially tough team to beat this year. Solid (two-headed) running game, QB on the rise, and two new receiving threats in Davis and now Decker. Not to mention a Dick LeBeau defense.

  • RickM

    Hopefully Shazier and others will read his quote and stop taking the media bait. The perfect answer. Respect but other things to think about right now.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Probably would be my answer. Media could still flip it and say “Ben not thinking about Patriots!” Kinda like is making them an afterthought. I would just nxt question it. I say I don’t wanna talk about that now. *shrugs*

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Good point. I really like what they have at TE as well – Walker has been underrated for years and they just drafted a guy I liked in Jonnu Smith.

  • KiJana Haney

    I don’t want to talk about new england until week 14. I think our goal should be winning as many games before the bye as possible.

  • spicyitln

    I have bigger questions about Brady at 40 playing a full 16 game season against Defenses redesigned to hit him Ex. (Miami,Atlanta,Pittsburgh) well see!!!!!

  • StrengthOfVictory

    Beating New England is important, but it may also be a moot point.

    The whole idea of beating the Pats in the regular season is to secure a tie-breaker for playoff seeding, and hopefully lock up a bye week. Great. But historically, a good season for the Steelers is more like 12-4, whereas the Pats lean more toward the 13-3 or 14-2 range. So beating them (assuming the Steelers do) might mean nothing at all.

  • FATCAT716

    Not funny at all

  • PaeperCup

    Thank You! Too much fuss is made about the Patriots. Here, there, everywhere. They are a good team, and no doubt a challenge, but that’s what they do, they get in your head.

    16 games in the regular season, we can’t ignore all of our other matchups.

  • Kevin Artis

    It’s about time.

  • Mark

    My apologies, i get the one game at a time mentality, however, the Patriots have dominated the Steelers. If your not thinking about them or hoping to avoid them then we are not the Steelers. We never avoided Oakland and always wanted to play them and the same with Baltimore. Ben has way too much respect for New England and they are the one team that has owned him throughout his career.

    So if he’s not focused them, I would be concerned.

  • WreckIess

    When did he say that he wanted to avoid them? He just isn’t going to focus on them all offseason because it makes no sense to do so. We don’t see them until December. You really think he should focus on them from now until then?

  • Mark

    As I’ve said they are only team that has owned him. The truly great QBs figure out how to overcome teams that give them obstacles

  • WreckIess

    So focus on beating the Patriots defense in June? Ok. Using what tape?

  • pittfan

    Just win baby!

  • Steve Johnson

    I’ve been very critical of this guy about some of the things he mentions when approached by the media. However, I have to give credit when it’s due, his reply was dead on point! Now, follow that up with reading defenses better and not always going deep with the ball. If you want to be the Leader, lead by example. Great answers, a great reply by #7. Now, I hope histeammates follow his lead.

  • Edjhjr

    I still distinctly remember when they lost to the pats during the fist NE patriots SB run, watching i said to myself, … looks like they know what plays they are about to run….

  • Edjhjr

    Im going to that game

  • ryan72384

    Beating New England might be the path we have to take to get to the Super Bowl but this isn’t the NBA where the Warriors and Cavs are guaranteed to play each other in the finals every year therefore their offseasons consist of trying to get better than the other. The NFL is so much different. Absolutely no guarantee of a Pats Steelers AFC championship rematch. I know the Pats are in the back of their minds but damn I just want them to win 13 or 14 games and secure home field advantage. Don’t lose a single game that they shouldn’t lose. The way our offense when fully healthy plays at home I don’t see any team beating us in the playoffs in Pittsburgh. There is no reason at all this team barring catastrophic injuries should not win 13 or 14 games this year. This offense ON PAPER AND BASED ON POTENTIAL is one of the most lethal offenses ever assembled. Ever. In league history. Yes we should score 35 points every game without breaking a sweat. Hope they make it happen.

  • LHW

    “Dominated” is the key word. It is not like the Steelers are a crappy
    team that plays in a crappy division and defaults to the playoffs every year. They
    field SB quality teams. But yet, year after year, the Patriots EASILY
    beat the Steelers. Something is not right. By virtue of playing them so
    many times one would think the Patriots would have at least a few bad
    games, and the Steelers would get lucky a few times. That just does not
    happen. The Steelers are consistently beaten with seemingly little
    effort from New England.

    Something is wrong. Is it that Patriots are just that good? The Steelers are just that bad? I don’t get it.

  • 2winz

    why not? if you can beat the patriots, you should be able to compete with any other team

  • 2winz

    I dont dwell on one game. I look at the history of steelers-pats since brady became the starter. Call it insecurity, I call it being honest about how the pats own us and more than likely Steelers have to go through them if they plan to make the super bowl. The pats consistently make it to the championship every year so something needs to change and I can’t sit and pretend like its all good until the steelers show me something this year. For now I agree with Ben, but they need to be ready this season

  • WreckIess

    Something does need to change, but they’ll worry about those changes prior to week 15.

  • 2winz

    as long as something changes


    Well I am going to disagree – somewhat.

    The goal, every year, is to win the Super Bowl. We have to win our division or otherwise make the playoffs, this is true.

    BUT every action, every rep should be devoted to the thought of unseating the current champ.

    And anyone who feels otherwise (including BB!) is either a liar or is just saying the ‘right’ thing to the press (which is really what is going on here, I believe).

    Or they are fooling themselves into thinking they are serious contenders. As Sinatra said- “All, or nothing at all”.


    I think insecurity is the wrong word, at least in my case.
    I have been pleased with our efforts the last two seasons but we have lacked the killer instinct that we have had in the past – just not quite focused enough.
    We need to be realistic in our goals and a championship is our goal.
    And the Pats (as painful as it is to say) are reigning champs – squarely between us and our goal.
    I wouldn’t mind if they CONTINUE to pepper the team with Pats questions until they get so tired of them that they want to rip TBs head off the next time we see them – playoffs or not.
    We need to get back the mojo, and right now the Pats are in our way.

  • Rob H

    Because the single best chance (besides health) for beating the Patriots is to get at least the two seed in the playoffs, and by improving the team as a whole, rather than fixating solely on one position group (as a large portion of the fanbase has). When you focus solely on one team, other holes and needs can be overlooked, and you could end up failing before you even get to play them. Not saying you don’t look at being able to get past them (or every other team with an elite QB), you just can’t become as singularly obsessed with them as a lot of the fans do.
    They already used the correct approach to identifying and improving all the areas that needed it most during the draft and free agency, and it would seem that they are correctly focused on the right thing going into the season. Now it’s up to the coaches to put the pieces in the right places during training camp, as well as each week (according to who they are playing), and then it’s up to the players to execute the assignments.

  • ThatGuy

    Just get home field advantage. I don’t care how it gets done, just get the #1 seed.

  • francesco

    Look at tape of the Superbowl Falcons- Patriots. First three quarters obviously. Then look at the 4th quarter to see what not to do.

  • WreckIess

    Ok. So where in the game do I see how they utilize Brandin Cooks? And how did they change their defense with the additions of Gilmore and Ealy?

  • francesco

    If the mindset is to finish first in the division and have playoff games at home so as to have the Patriots play on the road…then every week you are wanting to compare with the Patriots. And by comparing to them you become mentally tougher and ready when the time calls for it.
    There should not be the same old excuse we hear constantly “we wre not ready”.

  • francesco

    Not worried about our offense. More worried about our defense. Defensively the answer is and has always been…confuse the timing of the quarterback either by blitzing or variation of man coverage.

  • WreckIess

    You have to score to beat anyone in the NFL so you should be worried about the offense. Also, confusing the QB and disrupting the the timing is how you beat any team. Why game plan specifically for NE for that? And why game plan for a team that A.) We don’t play until December and B.) there’s no actual tape on for the upcoming season?

  • 2winz

    you would have to assume the #1 seed would be the patriots and steelers will not win a game there. steelers need to be at home vs patriots so steelers need the #1 seed. i agree with you on the approach and drafting and all that. I just think we disagree on the teams mindset. how many times can a team just overlook the history of losing to one team and just go about it like normal and as a result, no changes are ever made for years and years in order to beat a team that will consistently be in your way.. how many times does brady have to own us in order for steelers to get mad and not stand for it anymore?