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Inside the Locker Room: Ben Roethlisberger

Posted Oct 16, 2013

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger talks about Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field.

So, I guess congratulations are in order?
Thank you.

Happy day in the family?
It was when we found out a while ago.

Antonio Brown is averaging more yards than anybody in the AFC per game. He’s right at the top of a lot of lists. Can you describe how well he’s been playing?
He’s been doing a great job. He’s doing a lot of different things for us. We’re moving him around, [throwing] short passes and long passes. They’re doubling him. They’re doing a lot of different things. It’s a credit to him and the work that he’s putting in to get open, and to other guys. He’s not open if Heath Miller isn’t creating some issues and getting attention. It’s a credit to him but other guys are helping him along the way.

Are you moving him around so defenses can’t game plan?
A little bit, and [we] just to try and create matchup issues. If he’s in the same spot every single play, then you’re going to know if he’s the backside. So, we put him in the slot last week a little bit and he caught, I think, two passes from the slot. We’re going to continue to utilize him but not put too much on his plate that it slows him down, because that’s one of his best assets and attributes, his speed and quickness.

How good can the passing game be if you get the running game going a little bit more?
We’ve always felt that we could be as good as anybody. We feel like we’ve got the weapons, and we need to be balanced. I think the running game is coming. It’s almost there. I know the numbers aren’t where we want them to be but it’s being effective enough that it’s opening up play-action passes for us.

Does it still feel like the old rivalry? Neither team has a winning record for the first time in a long time.
It doesn’t matter. The point was brought up to me by [the] Baltimore [media] that there’s no Ray Lewis, there’s no Ed Reed, is it still the same? It’s still the same rivalry. There just might be different people in it. [Terrell] Suggs is still over there. [Haloti] Ngata is still over there. To us, and I’m sure they’re saying the same thing, it’s still Baltimore-Pittsburgh.

Do you talk to the rookies and guys who have never been in this game about what it’s all about, or do they simply have to experience it?
A little bit. Not to just pull every rookie aside and say something, but my locker is next to Markus [Wheaton], and I’ll say something to certain guys just to be ready for a big game.

Now that you have a win, do you feel that the confidence has changed in here?
I hope so. We’ve always been ones to keep our confidence high no matter what. I know that was a big question the last couple of weeks. Where is our confidence level at? But we’ve always felt confident that we can get this thing turned around. It’s one game at a time.

How hard was it to sit-out the two games against the Ravens last year, and how much are you looking forward to playing them again?
It was painful. I enjoy this rivalry. I know it sounds crazy, but I enjoy two of the best teams going at it. I don’t know if it was as painful as I would’ve played, but it was painful to sit out.

What is it like to watch tape of them with no Ed Reed out there?
You’re used to seeing one of the better safeties in the game. He was a hawk. He was all over the field. You never knew where he was on any particular play. I’m going to miss him, but just not too much.

What is it with you and Suggs? He compliments you, you compliment him.
For me, and I think if you asked him he’d say the same thing, it’s genuine respect. I respect him. I respect the way he plays the game. He plays it hard, he plays it physical, but he also respects the players. If he hits you and he hits you hard, he’s going to love it but he wants to make sure you’re okay because he wants you to keep playing, because he wants to keep hitting you. He doesn’t have this dirty attitude that a lot of these young guys coming into the league at linebacker and defensive players have. He’s got a respect for the game and the players, and I respect that.

Is he the guy that really makes that defense run?
He’s always been one of the best ones on that defense, but without Ray and Ed, now he’s kind of the guy that’s been there for a long time. Obviously, them adding Elvis Dumervil has helped on the opposite side. We’ve got to know where he’s at, and it’s going to be a big-time challenge for all of our guys.

I was reading some of your comments about the fans booing Matt Schaub in Houston. Here in 1973, Terry Bradshaw was booed, had a shoulder injury and was coming off the field and they cheered. What are your thoughts on fans booing the home guys?
It’s tough. You saw my comments. I’m going to stand up for the players and for a Schaub, the quarterback fraternity. I felt bad for him. I really did.

Coach Tomlin yesterday said he wants to put a stop to players flipping into the end zone. Is that something you back?
I just don’t want anybody to get hurt. I think a big deal was made of [Emmanuel Sanders] doing it. He was not trying to make the other team look bad, he was just genuinely excited. I told him, “If you do it, just land on your feet.” That was what I told. I said, “Listen. Just don’t get hurt.” That’s my biggest thing. And if I ever somersault it’s going to be one of those little kid ones where I put my hands down and just roll right over.

But you’re in favor of the decision to put a stop to it?
Yeah, Coach Tomlin made a rule about it and obviously it’s the coach’s rule so we respect it and abide by it. Guys just need to be smart, regardless of whether Coach makes a rule on it or not.

You think some of the younger defensive players coming into the league don’t have the respect for the game and the other team?
No, for the older guys and guys that have been around. I think it’s just that some guys get it and some guys don’t. That’s all.

When you look at the scope of this division, you guys were out of it and now you’re back in it, especially with a win this week. I know every game is a must-win, but it seems like this is a little more important.
Yeah, it’s Baltimore. It’s always important to us. We’re taking every game one at a time and the approach, the mindset and the mentality that we have to win this one game. Regardless of who we’re playing, that’s the approach we’re taking. Now that it’s Baltimore and it’s in the AFC North, it means a little bit more, but we’re still in a pretty big hole. So, we’ve got to fight for this one this week.

Bill Cowher and Phil Simms were talking about you saying that the bye week came at a great time. Could you elaborate on that?
It’s just that you’re 0-4, and if there is ever a time to step away from it, it’s when you’re 0-4. It was, in my opinion, good for guys to get away from it for a little bit, to kind of take your mind off of what’s going on and just come back fresh, and start the second quarter of a four quarter season over.

Is one game too small of a sample size to say it worked?
Yeah. Obviously, week one was good for us, week one of the second quarter. Last week was good for us. We got a win, but it’s way too early to sit and say, “Wow, the bye week did it. We’re fixed and we’re ready to go.” We just have to take it one game at a time.

Do you think you have a good handle on what the problems were? Do you think the team goals you set before the season are still within reach?
Our goal is obviously and ultimately the Super Bowl. Is it in reach? I don’t know. We’ll have to play it out and see what happens.

It looks like another Coach’s rule is still in effect [no games in the locker room]. You haven’t gotten any of the stuff back around here.
As coach would say, it is what it is. [Laughs] Obviously, it is what it is [Laughs].

We all know you’re a family man. Are you excited about having another one on the way?
Oh yeah, of course. It’s an exciting thing to have a child. We’ll maybe find out soon what it is. We’re excited to grow the family.

At the end of last game it looked like you were pumping up your offensive linemen. What were you talking to them about?
I don’t like to get too much into those things. That’s why I even covered my mouth so no one could see it. In the cliff notes, it was just be happy but not too happy.

Is that a playoff beard?
Well, it was a Pirates’ beard, and we [Steelers] won, so I’m just going to keep wearing it I guess.

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