The Pittsburgh Steelers will take the field against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, Thursday night to officially begin the start of the 2015 NFL season. A matchup between two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks who both have a great chance of hoisting the Lombardi trophy in Super Bowl 50 will make for an exciting start to a new year.
The game will hold strong implications of who will get a running start to take an early lead in the American Football Conference. The Patriots would have the perfect opportunity to silence talks of the Steelers having the most dangerous offense in the league, while Pittsburgh would have the personal pleasure of handing 2014’s Super Bowl champs their first loss.
For Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, this game holds personal stakes for the signal caller who has entered an offensive renaissance in the later stages of his career. After years of struggle that put quite the beating on his body, the organization has added weapons around him that allow him to demonstrate the amazing athlete that he is.
The two-time Super Bowl champion had been overlooked for years in favor of quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Andrew Luck. He would create a buzz around the league when he did something none of the quarterbacks listed above had never done: Throw multiple 500 yard passing games and score six touchdown passes in two straight games.
If Roethlisberger were to come out and outperform Super Bowl XLIX’s MVP, it would put him further up the bracket of quarterbacks in the league. A Tom Brady playing with all the fervor of a quarterback looking to exact his revenge on anyone in his way after the league attempted to suspend him for his involvement and questionable decisions in the “Deflategate” scandal will indeed be a tough opponent.
It would be a similar situation to Roethlisberger’s first game against Tom Brady and the Patriots. A rookie with only a handful of starts under his belt, Big Ben would help guide the Steelers to a victory over a dominating Patriots team with a pair of touchdown passes to Plaxico Burress in the eventual 34-20 win.
The upset victory over New England would continue an impressive streak that would only end in the AFC Championship game against none other than the Patriots. It would begin a series of defeats against Brady that would last for over a decade. The only time they have be able to defeat New England would be a game in 2007 against a Matt Cassel lead offense while Brady was sidelined due to a torn ACL.
While Roethlisberger will be without two of his offensive weapons in Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant due to suspensions, it will not stop him from playing the game of his career. Even with the loss of Maurkice Pouncey his offensive line is the best it has been in his career and has done well in keeping him injury free for the past two seasons. Giving Ben the time he needs to go through his progressions and find him open targets will be paramount in the offense’s success.
How successful the offense is on Thursday night will be determined by how well Roethlisberger performs. Proving that the Steelers still have an offense that can be as effective as it was last year, even without three of it main contributors, will be his biggest challenge. It will be throughly mentioned that the offense is dependant on Bell in the backfield if the Steelers should falter as they did earlier in the year against the Baltimore Ravens.
Having been in worse situations before, Ben Roethlisberger is no stranger to having pressure placed upon his shoulders in dire straits. He will be tested in every way possible when the time comes to finally start the 2015 season in nearly a day’s time. He will attempt to make the biggest statement of his career and prove one thing to the NFL: He is the best quarterback in the National Football League.
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