Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger understands that few people give his team a chance against the Kansas City Chiefs. He suggested the Steelers are playing with house money. Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis thinks the veteran quarterback should have a different mindset heading into this high-stakes matchup.
Ray Lewis criticizes Ben Roethlisberger’s comments
Ray Lewis was one of the most intense players ever to step onto a football field. Known for his motivational pregame speeches and physical playing style, the Baltimore Ravens Hall of Famer only knew one way to play the game. He gave it his all every snap he played.
It’s not surprising that Lewis took some offense to Ben Roethlisberger’s recent comments ahead of the wild-card matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs.
In a recent press conference, the Steelers quarterback mentioned how Pittsburgh is a massive underdog:
We’re a double-digit underdog in the playoffs. So let’s just go play, have fun, and see what happens. We’re probably 20-point underdogs. Arguably the best team in football [Chiefs]. We don’t have a chance. So let’s just go play and have fun.Ben Roethlisberger
There’s probably some sarcasm in Roethlisberger’s comments, but his words were pretty accurate. Still, Lewis wasn’t a fan of his former rival saying that out loud.
The 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker recently gave his thoughts on CBS Sports HQ.
“Ben, I don’t know if you ever said you wanted to have fun playing against me,” said Lewis. “I wish you would’ve came out and had fun instead of being so serious.”
Lewis believes Ben Roethlisberger should have a different mindset for the upcoming playoff game.
“I don’t know if I ever walked into a game to have fun,” he added. “When I took that ride, that was the most serious thing I had going on in my life. Ben needs to understand what’s at stake. Even though his legacy is coming to an end, there are some young lions who are hungry.”
The Ravens Hall of Famer says Pittsburgh could be in trouble against the Chiefs
The Pittsburgh Steelers barely squeaked into the NFL playoffs. Mike Tomlin’s squad finished the regular season with a 9-7 record. The No. 7 seed Steelers don’t match up very well against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Knocking off the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium would be a tall task for any team, let alone Pittsburgh. Ray Lewis thinks it could be a long day for the Steelers if they’re not prepared.
“It could be scary,” said Lewis. “They have the worst run defense in football. Kansas City is now starting to adjust to, ‘Yeah, we have to run the ball.’ This can get so scary for the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is a game that I think they [the Chiefs] can get their entire swagger back. They can really punish the Steelers and get ready for the next round.”
Even though Ben Roethlisberger didn’t seem to be 100% serious, the Hall of Fame linebacker warned Pittsburgh’s signal-caller against taking the game lightly.
“Listen, I love you, brother,” Lewis said. “But this is not a game to go out and play with. This is a game to go out and take dead serious. Because Patrick Mahomes is trying to embarrass you. He’s trying to send Big Ben out on a bad note for sure.”
These two teams just met in Week 16, and Kansas City made easy work of the Steelers. The wild-card matchup could wind up being more of the same.
How the underdog Steelers can push Kansas City to the brink
It’s a miracle the Pittsburgh Steelers are even in the postseason. It’s been a roller-coaster season for Mike Tomlin’s crew.
Ben Roethlisberger’s decline has been evident throughout the season. He’s no longer the player he used to be, which has sometimes hindered the offense. The offensive line is not up to par. As a result, it’s been tough sledding trying to run the ball like Steelers teams usually do.
Given some of the offensive struggles, more pressure gets put on the defense to keep this team in games. It’s easier said than done, especially if the offense can’t sustain long drives.
Pittsburgh needs to play a perfect game to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs on the road. A few weeks ago, the Steelers traveled to Arrowhead and left with a 36-10 beatdown.
Kansas City has a top-10 defense, but it’s been a little more susceptible to the run lately. Pittsburgh will need to commit to the run and feed Najee Harris as much as possible, even if it gets down early. Putting too much on Roethlisberger’s shoulders could be a recipe for disaster.
If T.J. Watt and the defense can create havoc and generate pressure on Patrick Mahomes, they might be able to force a few mistakes. That’s the only way the Steelers would have a puncher’s chance.
Otherwise, it could get scary for Big Ben and company, as Ray Lewis suggested.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference