Ben: 'I'm glad everyone got involved'

If you took a quick glance at the stats for the Steelers receivers in the team's win over the Bills on Sunday, the individual numbers likely wouldn't blow you away.

JuJu Smith-Schuster had four receptions for 52 yards, Chase Claypool three receptions for 45 yards and Diontae Johnson five receptions for 36 yards.

But the takeaway with those numbers, and the rest in the passing game, isn't about individual numbers. It's about the bigger picture.

Every receiver had at least one reception. Every tight end had at least one reception. It was about spreading the ball around, and Ben Roethlisberger did a fantastic job of that.

"I didn't even realize that I was able to do that," said Roethlisberger on Wednesday morning before practice. "Sometimes it's the way the game unfolds. There's not really a clear intent to say, okay we got to get this guy the ball or whatever. You like to get guys involved early in games for that just kind of typical football. But I'm glad that everyone got involved."

As he said, getting them involved early is normally the key. But that didn't happen last week. It took some time for the passing game to click, but nobody blinked, a lot of that credited to a pretty young receiving corps growing by the day.

"I think each guy did something a little extra special in that game," said Roethlisberger. "I think JuJu was JuJu. He's tough. He's reliable. He's dependable. He does what you ask him to do. He lowers his head on the play and gets you that first down and shows that physicality.

"I thought Diontae started the game out really well. Got his knee banged pretty bad. I don't know that the old Diontae would have come back in the game and kept playing and making plays for us. I think that showed a lot of growth.

"James Washington coming in the game, right away, not expecting to fill in and catches the ball pretty early on the screen and gets north, gets us big yards.

"And I thought Chase played like a grown man. I mean some of his catches down the field, it's either a catch or it's a penalty. That's what we preach to him all the time, that he should be unstoppable.

"So, you talk about the game early, those guys all want the ball. They all want stats. They all want numbers. It's what every receiver wants. It wasn't happening for anybody because we weren't doing it on offense. At the end of the game, we come back in that last drive and I think a lot of people anticipated us running the ball and using clock and we came out and threw the ball. If any of those guys would have kind of been pouting or shut it down because they were disappointed or upset they weren't getting the ball, we wouldn't have been able to be successful on that drive. Instead, we used up however many minutes, we took the ball down the field and we kicked a field goal. And each guy contributed on that drive. So, to me that shows the growth and the maturity of these guys that early on, it wasn't going well, but they didn't let it bother them, they were still there at the end of the game when it mattered the most to make the plays."

In his fifth season, and at all of 24-years old, Smith-Schuster is the veteran of the group and Roethlisberger sees him showing that veteran leadership, something that is helping the group as a whole.

"He's growing it into a leader more and more," said Roethlisberger. "I mean he's always kind of been a leader in terms of on the football field. In terms of how he plays the game. He's very physical. He's where he supposed to be. He gets those tough yards, those tough catches. He's dependable. He has been the older one in that room for a while now, which is crazy because he's still so young, but he just puts in the work."

Roethlisberger is going to rely heavily on the group of receivers to get open on Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders at Heinz Field, as they like to bring the pressure. Defensive end Maxx Crosby was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for the show he put on in a win over the Ravens on Monday night, with six tackles, two sacks and two tackles for a loss.

"Nothing surprises me because he's from the MAC," joked Roethlisberger, who also played at a MAC school. "That's where the best football players come from.

"He's a stud. You watch what he did, that whole defense, their pass rush. Just watching the game, you don't see a lot of blitzes. It's not like they're doing a lot of crazy things. They're just rushing four guys and their four rushers are really good. And they count on those four to be disruptive in both the pass and run game.

"They let their backend kind of just benefit off of quarterbacks having to get rid of the ball quickly. They like to ball search. They get the ball out quickly when they have to from the quarterback."

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