Steelers.com Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger met with the media on Wednesday before practice. The following is what he had to say:
How excited are you?
It's the playoffs; there are only eight teams left. That's what we fight all year and in the offseason for, just the opportunity to get here and have a chance to have a run at the postseason and see what you can do.
How would you have been if you had to play last week and are you happy you didn't have to?
It's a chance for us all to get rested and let our bodies heal. It's an extra week of preparation. Even though we didn't know who we were playing, preparation can mean getting treatment, resting and relaxing. I think that's good for us.
Is this the official start of the post-season for you – all the media coverage?
That's the way it goes. We are kind of used to it. I have had it a couple of times since I started here. We like it. I would rather deal with this and be in the post-season than not have to see you guys and not make the post-season.
How did you feel after practicing on Monday?
Good. I had a little bit of a headache from putting the helmet on because it's so tight. We'll deal with it and move on. We'll see how today feels.
Last game against San Diego you moved the ball but couldn't score. How do you change that?
Our red-zone efficiency has to improve. We know it's a great defense. We moved the ball last time. We converted on third down. We had some success in the no-huddle. The key is getting down there and scoring six points rather than three.
How much pressure did they bring the first game and how much do you expect this time?
They brought quite a bit of pressure. We expect the same thing. That's kind of been their M.O. recently. Bringing people and using their athletes in the secondary to cover. We have to be on our P's and Q's and be ready for it as a line and a unit. We are going to have to be ready for everything.
Does it get your attention what they did to Peyton Manning?
Absolutely. Because it's Peyton and he is so good at what he does. They looked like a different football team out there. We're hoping that the home field will be to our advantage as it was to theirs when they played the Colts. We know our fans will be loud when they have the ball and quiet when we have the ball. It's going to be a good one. Hopefully we will get some snow and cold weather.
That weather doesn't help you?
As a quarterback you don't like it, but if it helps the team that's all that matters. I don't care how my stats are as long as we win.
What do you need to do in the red zone to get into the end zone?
We just have to find ways to get in the end zone. We left some things out there last time we played. Some of the credit goes to them; some of it is our fault. There is no magic solution. I can't tell you we have to do this. It's just take care of the ball and find ways to get in the end zone.
The Chargers punter had a big impact on field position. Can you talk about that?
That's huge. He won that game for them. I don't care what you say. He was the MVP of that game. That's enormous, especially when you have a team backed up and their punting and you think you are going to get field position and all of a sudden they put it inside the 10-yard line. He had one of those when we had our safety. I think he knocked us back deep again. That's big. Field position game is huge, especially in the playoffs. We will have to hope he has a bad day.
Teams that have had success have gotten pressure on you. Does the put extra burden on you to get rid of the ball faster?
Everything is faster in the post-season. We have to get the ball out. Guys have to identify. We have to block. It's just that time of year when mistakes have to be limited. You have to be careful because you can't play with that tentativeness where you are scared to doing anything because you don't want to make a mistake. It's a fine line I walk every time I go out and play. We'll find ways to make it happen.
Has there been more of a burden on you this year?
We've had a lot of people talk about our offense because we have the number one ranked defense in the world and that is awesome. They're going to shine over us and we don't mind that. We know when the time comes and when it matters we will step up and deliver like we have a couple of times this year and we'll continue to hopefully do it in the post-season.
Are you still improving every day?
We are going to keep improving all the way until Sunday.
Mike Tomlin always talks about January football. How important is it for a quarterback to play well in January?
It's huge. Every turnover, every mistake is magnified. You watch someone like Chad Pennington who had very few interceptions in the regular season and had three or four in the post-season. I have had those games. The AFC Championship game; last year against the Jaguars. When you can limit the turnovers you give your team a better chance to win. That's why you have to play great football. But you still have to be careful not to be too cautious.
Talk about the offensive line improvement?
They have come a long way. I still remind people that you have to remember that Max Starks and Darnell Stapleton are fill-ins. They came in and filled in for Kendall (Simmons) and Marvel (Smith). They have gotten so much better. They have played against some phenomenal defenses. I wish people would understand what kind of defenses they played against and how good they are, their pass rush. They have done a great job. I am fine. I am up walking around. I will always have their back and I know they will always have mine.
What is the biggest difference you see in the Chargers defense?
They like to blitz a lot. They are moving guys around, taking chances and gambling. They have been playing playoff football for the last month or two and that's what you have to do in this situation, especially they were in. They had to do it.