The answer wasn’t just concise, it was definitive when Ben Roethlisberger was asked on Wednesday morning if his preseason enthusiasm for the Steelers was dampened at all after the team’s 33-3 loss to the Patriots on Sunday night.
“No,” Roethlisberger emphatically replied to the reporter’s question.
The reporter followed up. ‘Not at all?’ he asked.
“Not at all,” Roethlisberger replied.
You won’t find a single player in the Steelers locker room who was pleased with the outcome of the season opener, but you also won’t find a player who is throwing in the towel either. They all still believe in each other, believe in what they can accomplish, and that starts with Roethlisberger.
“It’s one game,” said Roethlisberger. “We played the best team in football at their place. We still have a game this weekend and we are excited for it.”
Roethlisberger is the first to acknowledge there is room for improvement, the first to admit the team wasn’t ‘good enough.’ Roethlisberger completed 27 of 47 passes for 276 yards, one interception and no touchdowns and he knows it begins with him as far as improving as the team prepares to take on the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at Heinz Field.
“I am only going to focus on the quarterback play, and the quarterback has to get better,” said Roethlisberger. “We didn’t execute well enough. I didn’t make enough plays, enough throws and they outscored us.
“I told the guys on Monday when we came in here, we were out there doing our run. I told the guys look up, the sun is still shining. The sky is still blue. The best thing is we still get to play on Sunday. It’s Week 1. We stared a few years ago 0-4. It’s a long season. Half the teams lost their first game. Guys realize what Week 1 was and now we are going into Week 2.
“We’re always trying to improve, get better in all areas of the game. That starts with me. I am going to do my best to get ready for this week.”
The offense was stymied all around, from the ground game which managed just 32 yards, which included a seven-yard scramble by Roethlisberger, to third down efficiency which was a mere 25%. But it doesn’t mean they have to start over. The pieces are in place, the plan is in place. It’s now just going out on Sunday and executing it.
“It’s not like we have to go back to the drawing board and scratch everything out,” said Roethlisberger. “We all need to, starting with myself, play better. It’s nothing drastic. Little things here and little things there. I was just up with Coach Randy (Fichtner) and we were talking about play calling things. That is him and me together, communicating. It’s little things here and there.”
More from Ben:
On the changes to the Seahawks defense, which includes the late addition of Jadeveon Clowney:
“He is one of the best rushers and defensive guys in the league. That adds a lot to a defense that is already good. They lost some of their name guys. They still have a lot of good defensive players, including one that used to be here in Al (Woods). We know they are going to be a heck of a challenge. We’re excited for that challenge, especially after last week.”
On what he saw from the Steelers’ receivers against New England:
“One of the biggest things I saw was the willingness to block, the willingness to get back. We sent guys deep a lot and they were running back to the line of scrimmage ready to go. They didn’t shy away from that and I am really proud of that and the plays they did make. Defenders were all over them a lot. There were some tight windows. I was proud of the way we all communicated on the sideline as well.”
On the long pass to Johnny Holton and what he saw from Holton to do that:
“We put that play in to send him deep hoping they wouldn’t be suspecting it. I let it fly. Obviously, I didn’t let it go far enough. I think if I would have thrown it a little further, he could have run under it and we could have had a big play on that first drive.”
On what he likes about Donte Moncrief:
“I think he is a smart receiver. He is a guy who is going to give you everything he has got. He is a veteran guy. He has been around. He can run. He can run different routes, not just a deep ball guy. I really like the personality he has. He is easy to talk to and will communicate back with you. I am excited for him this week. I think we will see some big things. I am not discouraged at all. I am not going to shy away from him.”
On JuJu Smith-Schuster facing the double-team:
“We’re expecting it. We tried to move him around and we did some of that. He was still able to get open on some things. As for other teams, we are not sure what to expect yet, but we will prepare for that.”
On what other receivers have to do to counter Smith-Schuster’s double team:
“Keep doing what they are doing. Make plays. Step up. Be in the right spots. If I deliver the ball where it needs to be delivered, I think we can make more plays.”