Ben Roethlisberger disputes the notion that the Steelers are entering the 2013 season a little under the radar.
“A little bit? We're very under the radar,” the Steelers quarterback said Wednesday afternoon. “I'm fine with us being under the radar. They can say whatever they want.”
They is a bit nebulous since predictions abound more than ever due to social media and the proliferation of websites that cover sports. But the Steelers are certainly aware there is more talk of them missing the playoffs -- and even taking a step back from 8-8 -- than there is of the six-time Super Bowl champions making a deep postseason run.
The players even know why plenty of analysts and other media types are hardly forecasting a season to remember.
“Because we're 8-8, we lost some veteran guys, we're getting too old, we're too young in some spots. There's a lot of reasons,” Roethlisberger said. “We could spend all day probably [talking about them].”
How much low expectations attached to the Steelers are talked about within the sanctum that is the players' locker room is debatable. What cannot be denied is the Steelers have a recent history of thriving in such a climate.
The most recent example is 2010 when the Steelers were widely written off after a tumultuous offseason that bottomed out when Roethlisberger was suspended for the first six (later reduced to four) games of the season.
The Steelers won their first three games and really came together after Roethlisberger returned. They finished 12-4 and made it all the way to the Super Bowl where they lost to the Packers.
The Steelers were a similar surprise in 2004.
They reeled off 15 consecutive wins in the regular season despite going 6-10 the previous year and starting a rookie in Roethlisberger at quarterback after the first game.
The four times, in fact, that the Steelers have missed the playoffs since 2000 they have returned to the postseason the following season.
That is not all that bodes well for the team bouncing back in 2013.
Free safety Ryan Clark said the relative lack of hoopla surrounding the Steelers allowed the team to stay focused during training camp and preseason practice.
“It wasn't that crazy media frenzy at our camp trying to figure out what we were going to do,” said Clark, who is one of four Steelers captains this season. “It allowed us to work. It allowed us to come together as a team. It's about the people in this locker room and in this building. Games are won and Super Bowls are won in the offseason.”
Roethlisberger would love nothing more than to win a bunch of games -- and a third Super Bowl ring -- to feed a competitive fire that is more like a five-alarm blaze and further cement his legacy.
There is another reason the 10th-year veteran wants to win big this season.
“There's no secret we want to be great so we can rub it all in your faces,” Roethlisberger said.