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Ben Roethlisberger weighs in on Mike Tomlin’s Patriots talk

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin laid it all on the line on Sunday by making some bold comments about the team’s Week 15 match-up with the New England Patriots. Ben Roethlisberger on Tuesday attempted to downplay the remarks, stating he personally isn’t looking ahead to the showdown with the Patriots, instead saying he’s “100 percent on Cincinnati and nothing else.”

Tomlin on Sunday made it clear during an interview with NBC’s Tony Dungy that he’s looking forward to the Patriots game, which comes on Dec. 17.

“I’m going to embrace the elephant in the room. (The game is) going to be fireworks,” Tomlin said in an interview aired ahead the Steelers’ “Sunday Night Football” victory over the Green Bay Packers. “And it’s probably going to be Part 1. That’s going to be a big game.

“But probably, if we’re both doing what we’re supposed to, the second one is really going to be a big game. Then what happens in the first is going to set up the second one, which is going to determine the location of the second one.”

Roethlisberger, presumably recognizing the Steelers have two big games before facing the Patriots — Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals and a Sunday night showdown with the Baltimore Ravens the next week — opted to discuss this week’s upcoming opponent.

“Honestly, he’s the head coach, he’s allowed to think about whatever game or whatever elephant in the room, or whatever matchup, things like that,” Roethlisberger said during his weekly interview on 93.7 The Fan, via Steelers Depot. “For me, I am 100 percent on Cincinnati and nothing else. That is my biggest focus because these guys are going to come out to get us. I mean, they want to ruin our playoff chances.”

As Tomlin alluded to in his comments, the prevailing belief is that the Dec. 17 game between the Steelers and Patriots is in essence an AFC Championship Game preview. It was interesting to hear Tomlin “embrace the elephant in the room.” But it was more encouraging to hear Roethlisberger instead choose to focus on the here and now.