Roethlisberger says he’s not pressing
PITTSBURGH – Ben Roethlisberger insists he’s not pressing and trying to do too much.
The early results, however, haven’t been good for the Steelers’ star quarterback.
Three games into the season, Roethlisberger has thrown as many interceptions (4) as he has touchdown passes and also has lost three fumbles, accounting for seven of the Steelers’ nine turnovers.
Roethlisberger hopes to turn that around this week when the Steelers take on Minnesota in London. It’s a meeting of 0-3 teams looking to notch their first win.
“I don’t feel like I’m trying to do too much,” said Roethlisberger, whose passer rating of 81.2 is more than 10 points below his career rating of 92.7.
“I know I’ve done that. At the end of last year, I really felt like I was pressing too much and trying to put too much on my shoulders. I don’t feel like I’ve done that this year. That’s why I feel so frustrated with the way things haven’t turned out the way I’ve wanted them to. I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing and not try to overcorrect anything.”
Roethlisberger, 31, was off to the best start of his 10-year career last season, throwing 17 touchdown passes and just four interceptions in Pittsburgh’s first four games. He was also sacked only 18 times in those nine games. But he took a hit against Kansas City, landing directly on his throwing shoulder, and missed the next three games.
His production was clearly down upon his return. He threw nine touchdown passes in the final four games, but also four interceptions, matching his total from the first two-plus months of the season. Roethlisberger also was sacked 12 times in those four games, as he seemed to spurn offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s short passing scheme and hold onto the ball longer.
In his first eight games with Haley, Roethlisberger’s passer rating was a career-high 101.1. In his last eight games, that rating has fallen to 85.6 as he’s thrown eight interceptions.
Worse still are the fumbles. Roethlisberger fumbled three times Sunday in a loss to Chicago.
Roethlisberger said the fumbles bother him more than the interceptions.
“Yeah, probably a little bit because picks are what a quarterback does,” he said. “You throw the ball so much, that’s going to happen. When they get it out on a sack, that bothers me because I feel like I can do better to control that.”
The Steelers’ offensive line could do a better job of protecting its quarterback.
Roethlisberger spoke to the linemen prior to the Chicago game and implored them to play with an edge.
“Just go out and play,” Roethlisberger said. “Be tough. Be nasty. If you have to get a penalty because you’re going to be nasty, if you have to get a holding penalty or choke somebody out on a run play, I don’t think that’s a bad thing because you’re playing tough and nasty instead of passive. It’s a fine line, I know. The o-line coach probably doesn’t want to hear me say that. I just want them to have the confidence to go out and play the way that I know, the way that they know, that they can.”
Roethlisberger was sacked three times – on 44 pass attempts – and the Steelers ran for a season-high 80 yards.
Though Roethlisberger’s message was different than that of the coaches, the linemen said they took his words to heart.
“I think we’re putting it together,” right tackle Marcus Gilbert said. “A lot of guys on the offensive line, we’re tired of hearing of how bad we are, how young we are. We don’t want to hear that. We want to go out and be the best. We’re capable of doing it. We just have to show it on the field. We have to earn the trust from the quarterback and coach.”
Roethlisberger saw the improvement.
“I think the Chicago game, they did a good job,” he said. “They’re doing better. They were pretty good out there. We’ve just got to get better.”
The Steelers flew out of Pittsburgh Thursday evening and were scheduled to arrive in London this morning. … Responding to reports that running back Isaac Redman said he fooled team doctors into letting him return to the game two weeks ago in Cincinnati after suffering a concussion on the opening kickoff, the Steelers released a statement saying their doctors performed all NFL-mandated concussion tests and that Redman passed each of them.