Needing a run: Ben Roethlisberger smiled as he stepped to the mic on Wednesday to talk with the media and when asked how he felt after a few days off, he said 'okay.'
A few days earlier, though, okay might not have been the answer. Roethlisberger was sacked five times against the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night, and was hit several more times.
"It's been a while since I have felt like that on the days after a game, but it's football," said Roethlisberger, not dwelling on it.
And not dwelling on things, or looking ahead, is exactly what Roethlisberger knows this team has to do. He was asked about his future, about thinking how his career could possibly end when it comes to that.
That wasn't something even on his mind. With four games remaining on the schedule, and the AFC North far from decided, there is no time like the present for the Steelers to make their move.
"I'm living right here, right now and we've got to make a run," said Roethlisberger. "We've got to play good football. We've got play great football and that starts with me. I can't get caught looking at the end because I need to focus on right here and this week."
In addition to Roethlisberger, a key factor on offense will be the running game and what Najee Harris can do the last four games. Roethlisberger said he talked with him late in the Vikings game and was proud of the way he finished, showing the heart that is needed when everything is on the line.
"I think you have to look at guys sometimes and look in their eyes and see what they have," said Roethlisberger. "And the crazy thing about this game, this sport, is you can look at guys and you could feel the guys have all the heart in the world and they have all the passion, they want it and they're going to give you everything they have. And sometimes the other teams just better or the other team makes a play, and you don't. It doesn't mean just because you're losing a football game, or the season maybe isn't going the way you want it to, doesn't mean guys don't have heart and don't love it and aren't passionate for it. It doesn't mean that. I just want to see that guys are never gonna quit.
"I had to talk with Najee maybe halfway through the third (quarter) before we really kind of started to make our run last week. I told him I know he was frustrated as we all were. I said, 'Hey, what you do, the rest of this quarter, and the fourth quarter will really determine the kind of the person and the player that you're going to be moving forward with the city, with the fans, with this team because you're going to be here for a long time. And you're going to have every right to kind of back off and not quit but say let's send another back in or not run hard.' I said whatever you decide is going to endear yourself to these fans. I think we had a third and short or fourth and short and he ended up bouncing off three guys, running back this way, running the guy over, catching a touchdown, blocking. Some of the things he did in the end of the third and fourth quarter I think spoke volumes of the person, the player, the heart that he has. I think he'll always endear himself to the fans and to us as a guy that's going to never quit and never give up."
Picking up the tempo: The Steelers had success on offense late in the game against the Vikings when they went to the no-huddle, but it's not always an option that you can go with from the start of a game, as a defense has yet to show their tendencies that early and that makes it more challenging.
But he also said he would like to be able to run it just to change things up, and not only because they are behind like they found themselves against the Vikings.
"Sometimes as you progress into a game you start to see what's going on," said Roethlisberger. "You can start to figure things, figure out what calls you should be making and stuff a little better. There's definitely something to that.
"Sometimes we've come out of games and done first series. It's hit and miss sometimes early in games. You never know.
"We're doing a little bit more of it. And sometimes games just dictate it. When you get down you kind of have to go to it sometimes. I think the goal would be to use it just to change tempo. Not because you're down or up, just to change the tempo sometimes."