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Steelers Film Room: For the Steelers to beat the Ravens, Ben Roethlisberger has to be better

Whether you win or lose, the blame and the glory almost always is on the QB, last Sunday vs the Bears was no exception.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that the Steelers offensive performance was nothing short of a train wreck on Sunday vs the Bears. I don’t know what it is about this offense on the road but they’re absolutely pitiful, and a complete shadow of their home selves. Ben Roethlisberger though, for some reason, is the one that suffers the most.

Even Ben himself was not happy with his performance. According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, Ben Roethlisberger said "The quarterback needs to play better." Ben piled on further, "I didn't play well enough to win. We lost the game because of me, because I didn't play well enough," Roethlisberger said. "It's not on anyone else. That's how I felt, that's what you've got to do is you've got to own it. And I'll own it. "If I play better in that game, I feel we win the game. If I play better in the first two weeks, then we're going to score more points and have a productive offense and we don't have to answer questions about why our offense isn't where it is."

We’ll get to that in a minute, but I thought it’d be a good idea to basically look at the play that summed up this game.

This is flat out painful to watch because this is a game changing play. Imagine how the Bears would’ve played knowing they were down throughout the game. They probably wouldn’t have ran the ball as much as they did. It definitely doesn’t excuse the Steelers putrid defensive performance but the failure of this play should not be condoned.

Some may say this is on Ben because Bryant had to stretch out for the ball, but that is not the case. Bryant actually slows down mid way through his route before he turns on the afterburners trying to catch up to the ball. I don’t know if it was the hot sunny day (87-degrees F) but it still hit Bryant in the hands. Not exactly an easy catch, but it would’ve been easier had he not slowed up in his route.

As for Ben Roethlisberger, throughout the rest of this game, he in no way can continue to needlessly eye down his first read.

Here’s the thing about this first play though, it actually looks like this was a designed play to go to Eli Rogers. You can clearly see Eli Rogers calling for the ball and Jesse James is looking back wondering if he can turn into a blocker.

For whatever reason though, Ben is eying down AB who looks to be running a fly route. Despite the obvious safety over the top, Ben does not look off of AB and he takes an unnecessary sack, losing the ball and giving the Bears great field position. This simply cannot happen. I don’t know what the progression of the play was supposed to be, but this looked like a designed play to Rogers and I just don’t understand why Ben wouldn’t look to that side of the field.

One thing though that absolutely irked me vs the Vikings was Ben’s insistence on forcing the issue.

I get it, Bryant has world class speed to burn someone over the top, and I broke down last week how his presence makes this offense explosive. It’s one a high safety look too but I just don’t get why Ben forced this pass when Marcus Cooper was playing with inside leverage and clearly flipped his hips way before Bryant was even with him. Cooper pins him to sideline well, and plays it perfectly as the pass falls incomplete.

Ben looked like he had two better options on this play.

Either he could hit AB on the crossing route, or he could check it down to Bell and let him generate YAC. There’s good things about going deep, but too many times it feels like Ben’s just forcing the big play hoping for a pass interference penalty. This isn’t a heave and pray offense, they’re much better than that, and there’s a reason why Ben called himself out. He’s putting this offense in a hole on early downs which is making it tougher to convert 3rd downs.

I’m not saying this offense performance is entirely on Ben, but a lot of these issues are the same problems I saw in Week’s 1 and 2. This isn’t as concerning as Ben starting to break down (knocks on wood), these are mistakes being generated by him. His arm is still top notch, and he can still thread the needle on those tight window passes (knocks on wood again).

Perhaps the lack of reps in preseason hurt the chemistry with his other weapons, but regardless, the mental mistakes must be cut down, and they may not show in the box score, but it shows on film and it’s a problem that must be fixed. Whether he’s playing on the road or at home, this offense is better than 21, 26 (even though that’s not bad) and 17 points.

Ben simply must be better if they want to go into Baltimore and win Sunday.