Big Ben: Teams ‘have right’ to rest starters

Updated: December 24, 2013, 3:40 PM ET


By
Scott Brown | ESPN.com


PITTSBURGH — The Steelers need to beat the Cleveland Browns and get some help to sneak into the playoffs, but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Tuesday there will be no hard feelings if teams the Steelers are depending on Sunday rest starters for part or all of their respective games.

“They have the right,” Roethlisberger said before the Steelers’ first practice of the week. “If a team goes undefeated and [starters] don’t have to play the last two or three games, then they shouldn’t have to. It’s up to them.”

The Kansas City Chiefs are among the teams that the Steelers need to win Sunday, but Kansas City can’t improve its playoff position with a win at San Diego.

Scenarios such as that leave the Steelers hoping that the teams they need help from do everything they can to win on Sunday.

The Steelers will make the playoffs if they beat the Browns and the New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens and Chiefs also win.

Roethlisberger didn’t play in regular-season finales in 2004 and 2007 after the Steelers were already locked into their playoff seed. The 10th-year veteran played the final regular-season games in 2008 even though the Steelers couldn’t improve their playoff position.

“I think a lot of players would want to play unless they aren’t quite healthy and want to get that extra rest,” Roethlisberger said. “Every team, every situation’s different. Some people take the mentality of let’s let some guys rest. If you’re pretty banged up, it’s a good opportunity to get rest. If you’re playing pretty well, it’s a momentum thing. You can keep going and build your way into the postseason.”

The Steelers would take their share of momentum into the playoffs if they qualify, in large part because of Roethlisberger.

He is having one of the best seasons of his career, and the offense has taken off since the Steelers started using a no-huddle attack extensively.

Roethlisberger, who calls the plays in the no-huddle offense, has already set a Steelers record for completions in a season (356). He needs 247 passing yards to break his own franchise record for passing yards in a season (4,328).

“I still feel like my best football’s ahead of me,” Roethlisberger said. “I want to keep getting better physically, mentally.”

Roethlisberger, who will turn 32 in March, has played every snap this season and said he has never felt better from a physical standpoint.

“I haven’t missed a day of practice I don’t think, have played every snap, knock on wood,” Roethlisberger said. “I give credit to the line, they’ve done such a great job of keeping me clean, and I think that extra working out I did this offseason really paid off as well.”

  • Covered Steelers for six years for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
  • Author of five books, including “Heaven Sent: The Heather Miller Story,” which highlights the friendship a young girl with cancer developed with several Steelers players

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