The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a big AFC North win against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4, but fans are still waiting for the real Ben Roethlisberger to show up. You know, the Ben Roethlisberger who has multiple 6-touchdown games during his career, but fans really don’t have to see all that — despite how awesome it would be — but just a more efficient and prolific Roethlisberger.
Could his breakout game be coming soon? We debate as we look at the Steelers news of the day outside the walls of BTSC.
When Le'Veon Bell rushed for 144 yards and totaled 186 overall Sunday, it left quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as the only member of the Steelers' offensive Big-3 not to have a breakout game this season.
Antonio Brown had 11 catches and 182 yards in the season opener and 10 more catches for 110 yards and a touchdown in Week 3.
Bell had his awakening on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens with a performance that looked right out of the 2016 second-half playbook.
Roethlisberger? He totaled a season-low 216 yards passing against the Ravens and compiled a 79.3 rating that also was his lowest number through four weeks. In addition, his 6.8 yards per attempt and 11.0 yards per completion for the season are the worst figures of his 14-year career.
Is it the sign of a declining quarterback at age 35, one who’s struggling to complete the deep pass? Or is what transpired against the Ravens part of the new normal for the Steelers where Bell becomes the focal point on offense and Roethlisberger serves as a complementary piece?
Veteran guard Ramon Foster wasn't embracing the notion that the Steelers reclaimed a run-first identity against the Ravens — if only because it would look like he was short-changing his quarterback.
“Who's to say?” Foster said. “Ben might come out and throw for 500 next week.”
But that's highly unlikely. Roethlisberger has gone 10 consecutive games without passing even for 300 yards. For the first time since 2008, he’s opened a season with four consecutive games without a 300-yard performance.
For the Steelers, though, that's not a bad thing. Consider that they won nine of those 10 games in which Roethlisberger failed to crack 300. The most recent time he reached that mark? The 35-31 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last November when he had 408 passing yards.
After that loss is when the Steelers turned to Bell to be their offensive catalyst, and this strategy helped produce a 7-game winning streak that enabled the Steelers to win the AFC North.
This year, the Steelers have carved a 3-1 record to take first place in the division. Again, Roethlisberger hasn't played at a Pro Bowl level. After accepting blame for producing only 17 points in the overtime loss to the Chicago Bears, Roethlisberger completed 18 of 30 passes for 216 yards and one touchdown against the Ravens. His yardage total has decreased each week since the season opener when he passed for 263 yards and two touchdowns against the Cleveland Browns.
“I'm pretty hard on myself,” Roethlisberger said on Sunday. “I didn't make all the plays I could. We took what they gave us, and we knew they were going to try to take away big plays.”
Roethlisberger cringed when asked if the showing against the Ravens is the way the offense is supposed to look.
“We'll take a win here however we can get it,” Roethlisberger said after his first victory in Baltimore as a starter since 2010. “I still feel personally that I didn't make all of the plays.”
Halfway through a mandatory stint on injured reserve, Cameron Sutton maintains he's “right on track” to re-join the Steelers' active roster as soon as he is eligible.
“Right on pace for what we need to do,” the rookie third-round pick said. “And we're right on track for getting me back to where I was playing at before — and how I was feeling before.”
Sutton was drafted 94th overall with intentions for him to immediately plug into the secondary. But a hamstring injury marred much of his training camp, and the Tennessee alum opened the season on IR after his right hamstring was aggravated during the preseason finale.
By injured reserve rules, teams during the course of a season can return two players from IR to their active roster after eight weeks of being out.
Now, through Week 4, Sutton is only two weeks away from being eligible to practice with the Steelers (Oct. 18). Sutton said on Monday that he “definitely will be ready to go” by then.
“I've been feeling really good, been doing a lot more now,” he said. “Been progressing each and every week, each and every day, feeling a lot better, doing everything that our strength staff has been helping me do and our trainers have been helping me do.”
The 5-foot-11 Sutton has been hanging around his teammates as much as possible. He’s a regular fixture in the locker room, and he said he attends every position meeting and has been at each game.
“ ‘Mike T' (Tomlin) asks me every week if I want to travel (with the team),” Sutton said. “Obviously he knows the answer, probably, before he even asks.”
Sutton was getting reps at outside cornerback and in the slot during the summer. He's viewed as a good fit for the press man scheme the Steelers want to play.
“I'm still paying attention to all the calls and game-plans and everything throughout the course of the week,” Sutton said. “Only thing that I would be missing is just the physical aspect of it, but that will come as soon as I’m able.”
Sunday was Hubbard's fifth NFL start at tackle, so he's achieved a comfort level and confidence that he can succeed.
“It's been fun,” said Hubbard, who filled in the past two games for Gilbert. “The big thing is you just have to adjust to different defensive schemes and what they’re doing every week.”
Hubbard was part of a unit that had an overall strong game against the Ravens — except for one area.
Offensive linemen committed six penalties, including two from Hubbard (both false starts).
“Man, you kind of can kill drives sometimes with those,” Hubbard said. “But we overcame it, and we got the victory.”
Every elite defense needs at least one X-factor type of player who has an impressive skill set to pull off rare—even unique—plays that can change the momentum of a game.
While the Steelers arguably have a few players that could fit this description, none were more obvious on Sunday than Ryan Shazier. His 10 tackles led the team, but with an interception, three passes defensed (one of which led to another interception), a tackle for loss and playing a part in Cam Heyward‘s forced fumble, he was a major factor in the Steelers’ 26-9 victory over the Ravens.
We take a look at how he did all this in the film room.
When the Steelers lost to the Bears last week, Shazier took the brunt of the blame with missed tackles and gap responsibilities as the Bears ran for more than 200 yards against the Steelers’ defense.
That was completely different this week as the Steelers held the Ravens’ ground game to just 82 yards, all of which came from Alex Collins.
Collins got most of his yards on one 50-yard burst in the third quarter. Other than that, he took eight carries for 32 yards. A very acceptable pace, considering the limited amount of carries he had during the game.
One of those carries was a key turnover that gave the Steelers the field position which led to their first touchdown of the game.