By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)
A day after promising never to quit on this team and vehemently denying rumors that he was seeking a trade, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went even further on Monday morning, vowing to play in the playoffs this season whether the Steelers make it or not.
"Whether we qualify for the playoffs or not is neither here nor there," Roethlisberger told GTOG when reached by phone Monday afternoon. "I don't quit. So after we play our 16th game, I'm coming to the stadium ready to go to work on Game 17. I'll be there no matter what. No locked gate will keep me away. I'll be there."
When reminded that the Steelers won't have any scheduled games if they fail to qualify for the playoffs, Roethlisberger was steadfast. "Schedules don't dictate my schedule," he said. "You know me. I don't quit. So while the season might end for some people, I keep playing. Right now, based on my projections, we'll be playing Baltimore in the third wild-card game. Terrell and his men are always prepared, so we better be ready."
This would mark the second year in a row that Roethlisberger continued playing football after the season was over. Last year, following the team's Week 17 victory over Cleveland, Roethlisberger showed up the following Sunday at Heinz Field in full equipment and ran around by himself for three hours playing pretend. Chester Rollins, who has been working security at Heinz Field since it opened in 2001, said this is par for the course for Roethlisberger.
"Last year he was actually more reasonable than most years in terms of understanding that the season was over. Usually it takes until about March 1st before he stops showing up thinking there's a game. But around Valentine's Day last year, he finally understood. It never gets any easier watching him come to that realization."
According to statistics provided by Roethlisberger, he was 17-for-26 for 282 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in Week 18 last year, a 26-23 victory over Miami. Roethlisberger was 4-for-5 on the game winning drive, culminating in a 14-yard TD strike to Heath Miller. In quotes attributed to himself after the game, Roethlisberger highlighted his perseverance. "We never quit. We never gave up. I tweaked the left ankle there a little bit. A sprain. Doc said it was a high and a low. Grade A. No excuses. You know me. Just some pain. Judge me on my wins."
Asked about the win over Miami, Rollins confirmed what all of Pittsburgh has already come to know. "There's no quit in that guy. I mean, seriously, that guy will not quit telling me that he won't quit."