Yes, Steeler Nation is excited about the return of Ben Roethlisberger from his four-game suspension. So is Roethlisberger. Amidst the fanfare that will accompany his season debut however is the simple fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers very much need to beat the Cleveland Browns.
The Steelers are currently one game behind the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North, and a second divisional loss in as many games would put them in an uncomfortable hole. Obviously Roethlisberger has had tremendous success against the Browns in his career, but the last time the two historic rivals faced last December, the Browns got the better of Big Ben and the Steelers. Roethlisberger remembers that game, a frigid night along Lake Erie when the Steelers were unable to muster anything offensively.
What Roethlisberger remembers are the cold and confusion in Cleveland. Temperatures were in the single digits and, for much of the game, it seemed as if the Steelers’ offensive yardage was, too, despite playing an 1-11 opponent.
The Steelers gained only 75 yards in the first half and, despite holding Cleveland scoreless in the second half, were limited to a Jeff Reed field goal after halftime. Roethlisberger was sacked eight times for 60 yards.
“They really got after us. We never want to make excuses, but we really just didn’t play good football,‘’ Roethlisberger said. "It was cold and windy, but they just got after us. Point blank, and we just couldn’t do anything on offense.’’
Roethlisberger doesn't expect his return to be extra motivation for the Steelers - not after their Bye Week, and not against a divisional opponent. They're already fired up and focused.