When the Steelers take on the Houston Texans on Sunday, Ben Roethlisberger will make history.
In his 17th season with the team, Roethlisberger will play in his 221st career game, setting a new record for the most games ever in franchise history. Roethlisberger will break the tie he current holds with Hall of Fame center Mike Webster at 220 games, something that the quarterback takes pride in.
"I attribute it to Jesus and just really being blessed," said Roethlisberger of his longevity. "I am so thankful to be in the black and gold 17 years later. Almost half my life, I've been here giving Steelers fans everything I have. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I wouldn't want to do it for any other team or any other fans.
"I've been blessed to be around a lot of great football players and talent and teammates. I did take a lot of beating early on. A lot of that was my fault. God made me a bigger man than most quarterbacks, so I think I can take it and I'm just enjoying playing this game."
Roethlisberger truly understands those blessings after missing the vast majority of last season with an elbow injury. It gave him an opportunity to look at his game differently. Before, it was all about his arm. Now, coming off the elbow surgery, he knows he has to focus on other aspects of his game.
"Going back and reviewing, I felt from Week 1 to Week 2, my pocket presence and awareness was better," said Roethlisberger. "I do feel I got a little lazy with my feet, which then, in turn, translated to a lazy arm. There were some throws that I kind of dropped my elbow. I don't want to get too technical, but it became more of a three-quarter release instead of an over the top when I didn't need to.
"There are obviously times you have to change your release point. There were too many throws, I felt looking back, that I just have to get my feet working better, and that will then translate, hopefully, to the rest of the body. Then I won't be guiding some of the throws. That's, to me, the biggest thing I'm going to work on today, even though it's an off day. I'm going to really work on my feet and kind of starting it there with translating the rest of my body."
Roethlisberger's footwork isn't something he has spoken about often when it comes to what he works on, but coming off the surgery he knows every aspect has to be spot on.
"I've gotten away with it in the past being able to not necessarily be perfect from the ground up and just letting my arm kind of make up for a lot of things, a lot of imperfections if you talk to quarterback people," said Roethlisberger. "Whether it's the layoff, whether it's the surgery, like I said, I feel great. I just need to get it in my mind that I can still make the throws when I'm not in the perfect position to make them.
"Maybe some of that just comes from not playing a lot of football. I played two games this year. I played a game and a half last year, so really, it's about three and a half games in two years if you think about it. It'll come. Like I said, if I'm having these issues and we are still winning football games, that's a plus."
More from Ben:
On getting Eric Ebron more involved:
"I think there's no reason to panic when it comes to how much E's involved or not involved. They've done a good job of keeping a close eye on him, and offensively, we haven't really hit our stride yet. So that's okay. As long as we are winning football games, that's the most important thing. I think to me, the coolest thing is you're seeing Ebron sticking his nose in in running plays. He's not afraid to block, and he's blocked probably better than any of us even expected or anticipated. We will get him involved. There's a lot of guys I would like to get more involved in the offense as we all start getting more comfortable with each other."
On getting Vance McDonald more involved:
"Both tight ends we are keeping a close eye on. Like I said, we just haven't really hit our stride offensively yet where we have done a ton of no huddle. I think they get involved a lot in the no huddle stuff. We haven't done a ton of that yet. I also think there have been some plays that have been called for those guys that have just been covered. None of us are panicking. We know how special both of our tight ends are. They make the big plays when we need them. Going back to Ebron, I thought he made a big play down the middle of the field. It kind of came back to him, and he went up high and made a great catch. They're going to get their balls and their touchdowns I'm sure."
On trying to make sure all the skill position players get enough touches:
"You look at the win-loss column. Truthfully. I know that's probably not the answer you are looking for, but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter who is getting the ball. It doesn't matter how many times they are running or throwing it. It doesn't matter who is getting their stats, it's just a matter of if the team is getting that one stat that is most important, and that is a win."
On trusting himself and his arm and teammates:
"I've been doing this a long time. That's going to be the biggest thing. I just have to tell myself to do it. I want to re-emphasize that it's nothing that the guys are doing wrong. It's just me trusting my arm, trusting the throw and trusting that I can make it because they're in the right spots. I'm thankful for them that they are there. I talked to Diontae [Johnson] this morning about it, that tomorrow when we both practice we need to, I need to keep working. I was making sure that he was practicing tomorrow. It's going to be full speed and everything like that because we just have to keep working. Really, it boils down to me needing to be better at trusting myself, which then translates into trusting everyone else."
On what is the perfect offense to complement the defense:
"We always talk about being there for each other. The defense was there for us this week when we needed them to be and it probably won't be the last time. There are going to be weeks when offensively we struggle. Whether that's because we're just not playing well or because the defense is stopping us, and we are going to need our defense to step up and make plays for us. There's going to be weeks where the defense may be struggling because they are playing a really good offense or whatever it is, and the offense has to step up. That's what makes teams special. They step up for each other, they complement each other.
"When you have a defense like ours, the biggest thing is turning the ball over is a killer. Punting isn't a bad thing when you have a defense like this. The other blade of that sword is you can kind of get a little more creative and you can take some more chances because if you do turn it over, you trust them to stop them. They've done that well for us last week, especially when we turned it over. They made stops. It just allows you to trust them more."
On Chase Claypool:
"I think he's doing really well considering, like you said, he's a rookie with no preseason. We got to see early on that he was going to have that success, or we believed he was, because even in the OTAs and minicamps and when we were throwing at Robert Morris in the offseason, you could just see that he was a guy who already knew what he was doing. And already had an understanding of the offense. I've said it numerous times, he'll make a mistake, but he won't do it two times. We are just really happy with his progress and hope that he keeps growing."