With the Pittsburgh Steelers only having four games remaining on their regular season schedule, many fans are preparing themselves for life after Ben Roethlisberger. It was reported weeks ago how Roethlisberger has told former teammates, and some current teammates, this is likely his last season as the Steelers quarterback. When you consider the beating Roethlisberger took vs. the Minnesota Vikings in Week 14, no one would blame him for deciding to call it a career. Nonetheless, Roethlisberger is focused on the stretch run, not retirement.
“I’m living right here, right now and we’ve got to make a run,” Roethlisberger told media Wednesday. “We’ve got to play good football. We’ve got to play great football and that starts with me. I can’t get caught looking at the end because I need to focus on right here and this week.”
Coming off a game vs. Minnesota where the offense did more than sputter at times, Roethlisberger was able to look back and see some serious growth with several players on the offensive side of the ball. Players who were able to dig deep and continue working, despite the staggering deficit on the scoreboard.
“I think you have to look at guys sometimes and look in their eyes and see what they have,” said Roethlisberger. “And the crazy thing about this game, this sport, is you can look at guys and you could feel the guys have all the heart in the world and they have all the passion, they want it and they’re going to give you everything they have. And sometimes the other teams just better or the other team makes a play, and you don’t. It doesn’t mean just because you’re losing a football game, or the season maybe isn’t going the way you want it to, doesn’t mean guys don’t have heart and don’t love it and aren’t passionate for it. It doesn’t mean that. I just want to see that guys are never gonna quit.”
It was midway through the second half when Roethlisberger talked with rookie running back Najee Harris about his response to the adversity the team was facing. It matters, and Harris responded accordingly.
“I had to talk with Najee maybe halfway through the third (quarter) before we really kind of started to make our run last week. I told him I know he was frustrated as we all were. I said, ‘Hey, what you do, the rest of this quarter, and the fourth quarter will really determine the kind of the person and the player that you’re going to be moving forward with the city, with the fans, with this team because you’re going to be here for a long time. And you’re going to have every right to kind of back off and not quit but say let’s send another back in or not run hard.’ I said whatever you decide is going to endear yourself to these fans. I think we had a third and short or fourth and short and he ended up bouncing off three guys, running back this way, running the guy over, catching a touchdown, blocking. Some of the things he did in the end of the third and fourth quarter I think spoke volumes of the person, the player, the heart that he has. I think he’ll always endear himself to the fans and to us as a guy that’s going to never quit and never give up.”
The offense finally woke up during the Thursday Night Football game, but the hope is it doesn’t take a double digit deficit for this offense to wake up this Sunday when the Tennessee Titans invade Heinz Field. Most want to see more no-huddle, or up tempo, offense, but that isn’t always the best course of action coming out of the gate.
“Sometimes as you progress into a game you start to see what’s going on,” said Roethlisberger. “You can start to figure things, figure out what calls you should be making and stuff a little better. There’s definitely something to that.
“Sometimes we’ve come out of games and done first series. It’s hit and miss sometimes early in games. You never know.
“We’re doing a little bit more of it [no huddle]. And sometimes games just dictate it. When you get down you kind of have to go to it sometimes. I think the goal would be to use it just to change tempo. Not because you’re down or up, just to change the tempo sometimes.”
Regardless, if this is Roethlisberger’s final go around, you better believe he is going to do everything in his power to to lift this offense, and this team, up and help them win and make the postseason.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field in Week 15.