Ben Roethlisberger was banged up entering the Steelers’ game against the Bengals. He was dealing with a pectoral injury.
How did he feel physically after the Steelers’ 24-10 loss to their AFC North rival?
“Everything hurts,” Roethlisberger said.
It’s easy to understand why. Pittsburgh trailed for most of the day against Cincinnati, which necessitated throwing the ball often. The 39-year-old Roethlisberger threw 58 passes. He also took seven hits and was sacked four times.
Roethlisberger could have deflected blame for the poor outing to his teammates. His subpar blocking and lacking running game would have been easy targets.
Instead, he pinned it on himself.
“I’m not going to point fingers at anybody else,” Roethlisberger said. “I’m going to point the thumb at myself and try and get it figured out. I’m a little stumped by it; I’m a little frustrated; I’m hurt. I hate losing.”
“It’s frustrating ’cause I know the work that we all put in,” he added. “Myself and other guys and [offensive coordinator Matt] Canada and other coaches are busting our butt. We’re having great days of practice, great walkthroughs, good meetings, so I just hope at some point it clicks for us.”
That may happen yet, but it would require the team’s running game to improve. The Steelers were averaging a league-low 57 rushing yards per game before Week 3. They totaled just 45 against the Bengals. Canada and head coach Mike Tomlin have gotten Najee Harris involved in the passing game — he had 14 catches for 102 yards on Sunday — but now they have to find ways for him to move the ball between the tackles.
Additionally, Pittsburgh’s receiving corps will need to get healthy. Diontae Johnson missed Sunday’s game with a knee injury and JuJu Smith-Schuster was declared out after suffering a mid-game rib injury. If both miss additional time, Chase Claypool and James Washington can serve as quality starters while the unit’s depth is tested.
Nonetheless, Roethlisberger is optimistic that things will come together. It just may take some patience.
“We believe in each other,” he said. “We believe in what we’re doing. We’re not going to quit on it; we’re not going to quit on each other.”