Ben Roethlisberger: Patriots like Steelers' big brother

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  • By Jeremy Bergman NFL.com
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Big brother is watching you, and little brother is watching from the couch.

Nearly two weeks removed from losing another AFC Championship Game to the dynastic New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger still isn't over falling to Tom Brady and Co. In an interview with Pittsburgh native and Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari, Big Ben had an interesting description of the relationship between the two AFC stalwarts.

"I'd say there's more respect than a hatred," Roethlisberger responded, when asked if legitimate hatred existed between the teams. "There's divisional hatred, Baltimore and us, Cincinnati and us, but I don't think there's a hatred there. We've played them now twice in my 13 years in the championship game, my rookie year and this year.

"Obviously, they've gotten the better of us twice in the championship game and kind of had our number, so we're like the little brother trying to keep up with the big brother in a sense."

It's amazing the Patriots have reached the level of consistent excellence that they can make the Steelers -- the fighting Rooneys, winners of six Super Bowls, 16-time conference championship game participants -- look like the little men. But the Brady-Belichick era has done just that.

Since 2001, Pittsburgh has played the Patriots three times in the postseason, all in the AFC title game, and has lost every time by a combined 40 points. Roethlisberger has only won three games against the Pats in 10 meetings, and one of those was against Matt Cassel.

As Roethlisberger continues to waver between retirement and returning -- he'll likely play again in 2017, but he's closer to bowing out than ever -- the stocky Steelers slinger is publicly ruing the team that got away. His career is Hall of Fame-worthy despite not conquering the Team of the Decade(s), but a postseason win over the unbeatable Pats this year would have cemented his legend and maybe, just maybe, put him in the same conversation as Brady.

It's fair for him to wonder if he'll ever get that chance again.

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