One of the most talked about things after Wednesday's game against the Ravens was the number of drops the Steelers' receiving corps had. But don't think for a minute that is going to make Ben Roethlisberger gun shy when it comes to launching the ball to anyone in that group.
"No, there is nothing different that needs to happen," said Roethlisberger. "We'll still communicate, we'll still talk, we'll still throw guys the ball. There is no reason for me to feel any kind of way about that. I am going to throw guys the ball that are open, how the reads dictate. It's one of those games. I need to be more accurate. All around we need to be better. Nothing is going to change today or this week."
Coach Mike Tomlin said during his weekly press conference that is something that can happen, especially when dealing with a group of young receivers.
"Sometimes when you have a youthful group you see variance in performance," said Tomlin. "We know that we have a youthful group. You don't necessarily accept it. You just acknowledge that is some potential. For those of us who have been in the business for a number of years, sometimes it's associated with maturation. We will just keep working."
And that is what the receivers continue to do, work. Yes, it is a young group, with JuJu Smith-Schuster the 'elder spokesman' in his fourth season. James Washington and Ray-Ray McCloud are in their third NFL seasons, Diontae Johnson his second, and Chase Claypool just a rookie. They have been compared lately to a trio of young receivers the Steelers once had in Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, but what Roethlisberger likes about the current group of five is they are interchangeable at each spot.
"I think the cool thing about this group is there are five of them," said Roethlisberger. "You talk about those three back then, they were all phenomenal football players and had great careers. We have more than just three. You've got five guys that can be on the field at any time and really kind of fill in for each other. They all can play each other's spot, which I think is one of the most special things about the group.
"Literally you can plug each guy into each position, role and route. We do that in the no huddle when we are moving guys around and they don't blink. They don't second guess, they don't question. When we call things they just line up and do it. When you talk about this group the collectiveness of all five of them is what makes them so special."
One player who stood out against the Ravens was Washington. Maybe the numbers weren't eye-popping, with two receptions for 19 yards, but it was a 16-yard reception where he wouldn't be denied in the fourth quarter to move the chains and help seal the win that stood out.
"I have 100 percent confidence in him, or as (Maurkice) Pouncey would say 1,000 percent confidence," said Roethlisberger. "I wouldn't have thrown it if I didn't believe in him. Maybe I would have put a little more zip on it, make it a little easier on him.
"When you give a guy a chance to make a play, and he makes it over and over, that man should continue to get opportunities. I think he will continue to get opportunities, as he should. He puts the work, conditioning, mental aspect in and he deserves to get on the field more and I think we will see him."
More from Ben:
On not being sacked much this season, including throwing almost 200 passes without a sack, and now going against a Washington front that is extremely physical and comes after the quarterback:
"I never want to disrespect anybody you play, but arguably these guys…they are rushing four guys, every once in a while they will bring five. They put their stock, their money, their picks in their four down guys. There are some really good and talented guys, and arguably the four best collectively. You will have to ask the linemen. They are the ones blocking them. My guys up front have done a great job protecting me this year, especially the last few games. I am always thankful for that. I will have to look at expanding my Christmas gift ideas."
On going from having fans on the road, to none at home now:
"I've talked about it for 17 years now. we've got the best fans in all of sports. In Dallas it was more than 50% Steelers fans. In Jacksonville, 80-90% Steelers fans. That is what we are used to. We are used to Steelers fans being everywhere.
"And then when you come home and you are used to the Terrible Towels, you are used to them bringing that energy, that excitement. As a quarterback you play the mental game so you shouldn't need all of that stuff. You want to keep it within yourself. For me it's not as big a deal. I love the fans. I love the excitement. But for a defense, when you are on third down and you need that crowd, you need that energy and you don't have it, it's crazy weird, it's different. I can't imagine being a guy like that who feeds off that energy.
"But we miss them. We miss the fans. Especially for this really cool run that we have been on. It would be awesome to have them in there. We are still playing for them even when they are not in there."