Conventional thinking would lead you to believe that Ben Roethlisberger is jumping for joy over the Pittsburgh Steelers' 3-0 start to the NFL season.
I mean, why wouldn’t he be?
With only one game to go before Roethlisberger’s return, the worst the Steelers can finish is 3-1.
When Roger Goodell suspended Roethlisberger for six games (later reduced to four), the general consensus from a die-hard Steelers fan to an NFL expert was that the Steelers would be fortunate to win a game.
As it is his questionable decision-making and not an injury that is keeping Roethlisberger off the field, a loss prior to his return would fall squarely on his shoulders.
In addition to being atop the AFC, one would assume Big Ben also appreciates that the team's core—Troy Polamalu, Casey Hampton, and Aaron Smith to name a few—are at full health and regardless of how they perform against the Ravens, the Steelers are primed for another Super Bowl run.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is some truth to all of the above.
At the same time, has anyone thought to dig a bit deeper and take into account the immense levels of pressure that Big Ben will face to keep this team at the top?
Before training camp even began, Big Ben knew he would face significant pressure.
He has the stress of making up for his actions to his teammates, the NFL, and most importantly Steeler Nation. This pressure has not dissipated and will be ongoing throughout the remainder of the season.
Now, with the team’s perfect start, the pressure for Big Ben to succeed has essentially doubled.
The two-time winning Super Bowl quarterback is now entering a situation where he has far more to lose than to gain.
Hypothetically, if the first loss of the season comes in the weeks following Roethlisberger’s return, who is going to be held accountable?
They won without him so therefore they are certainly expected to win with him. The aging defense and shaky offensive line excuses will not go over well.
Next, the Steelers are currently playing a style of football that has fans salivating; they are running the ball down opponent’s throats and playing shut down, Steel Curtain defense.
How are fans going to react to Big Ben putting the ball in the air 30-plus times every game?
I don’t have the expertise of Trent Dilfer or Tim Hasselbeck, but I have to believe fans won’t react too kindly.
Finally, as a result of the 3-0 start, Roethlisberger can no longer be viewed as the savior. There are no more prayers for him to come in and resurrect the stagnant offense.
Charlie Batch looked sensational dismantling the Tampa Bay defense.
There will be no statues erected outside of Heinz Field for No. 7 and if people aren’t talking about how he saved the Steelers, what do you think they will be talking about?
If you said his off-field issues, you would be correct.
In the end, the one thing I’m trying to convey is that it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if the Steelers lost to the Ravens this coming Sunday.
Anything that could bring this larger-than-life Steelers team back to earth might be a good thing for Ben Roethlisberger, and in turn, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
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