No Apology Needed
Ben Roethlisberger stepped up and let it be known he was sorry for the post-game furor he had unleashed in Texas, specifically for the public setting he chose to express his opinions on the playcalling and the frequency with which the Steelers employ the no-huddle offense, and the public fallout that resulted. "Just apologizing for the storm that created and caused," Roethlisberger clarified. A cynic might suspect Roethlisberger was for the most part merely following orders as they related to organizational damage control in delivering his mea culpa. That same cynic might also sense a connection between Big Ben's act of contrition and the Steelers honing the no-huddle offense in practice on Wednesday longer than they normally do on a Wednesday, as one veteran suggested they had. Whatever, the focus can now shift in its entirety to this season's first official must-win scenario, this Sunday's upcoming rematch with Cincinnati. The Steelers and Bengals are separated by one game in the standings and by seemingly even less in terms of statistics and composition. But there is one glaring disparity and it involves players who have won NFL championships. The Steelers have more of those and that's something they might be able to use to their advantage. "I hope so," Roethlisberger said. "A lot of the guys in this locker room who have quote-unquote been there before, understand that this is a playoff game for us. "Does that mean the outcome's going to be in our favor just because of that? No, but it does help us, especially being at home." And for that, none of the Steelers feel inclined to offer an apology. They've earned what they have on their resumes. The Bengals are still trying to establish that championship identity. It might be that this is their time, that they're about to symbolically enact a passing of the torch in the AFC North by beating the Steelers in Pittsburgh and the Ravens in Cincinnati to close out the regular season as division champions. Or, the Bengals might not yet be ready. And that might mean everything. "When you think about players that really respond to great moments, why do some players relish that and excel in that and others fail?" ESPN analyst Merril Hoge asked the DVE Morning Show on Wednesday. "I have to believe it's what your mindset is. "Do you look at this game as, ‘I can't wait for an opportunity to touch the ball or have that moment'? Players that have had great moments and that we think of as great, that's their mindset. ‘I can't wait to touch the ball. I can't wait for it to be third-and-1. I can't wait for it to be fourth-and-1. I can't wait for it to be on the goal line when it matters because I'm going to score. I'm going to make that play.' "Others that don't and that fail in those moments, they're thinking ‘What if I don't get it? What if we don't get a fourth-and-1? What if I don't score?' "I just think that's what it comes down to. And if you put it in that perspective, you probably have more players for the Steelers who think like that, who have proven that." There's no ‘probably' about it. Eventually, the Steelers' championship pedigree will become a championship legacy. Eventually, this collection will prove itself to be too old and too slow, as it has been accused of being in recent seasons. But as of right now the Steelers are still the Steelers, and to the Bengals the Super Bowl is still something you watch on TV at the end of every season. "This is a very even match-up," Hoge continued. "It might come down to that mindset and guys that have been there before and done it before."