The Steelers scored just 17 points against New England but it was a winning effort, one in which the offense was “out there doing some really good things,” in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s estimation.
The Steelers did even more of those last Sunday in New Orleans _ 28 points, 429 total net yards, 26 first downs, to name a few _ but it still wasn’t enough.
“We’ve been playing pretty well, but if you don’t win a football game it doesn’t matter,” Roethlisberger maintained today.
The Steelers have at least one more of those to play, Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field against the Bengals.
Roethlisberger is focused on nothing else at present.
“I don’t care about anything but winning this football game because nothing matters if you don’t,” he said. “It’s AFC North football. It’s the last game of the year at home. It’s 100-percent focus on the job at hand.”
Roethlisberger was willing to acknowledge the five-wide receivers formations the Steelers have featured the past two weeks have agreed with the offense.
“You’re getting a lot of weapons on the field,” he said. “It’s a different look for teams. It’s hard for defenses to match up when you have five wide receivers on the field.
“It’s just been something that’s good for us because of the guys we have.”
The Steelers have had Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Ryan Switzer, James Washington and Eli Rogers as an option together since Rogers’ return to the active roster for the New England game on Dec. 16.
They also haven’t been shy about operating out of an empty set with three wide receivers, a tight end and a running back in the formation.
One of the reasons they were able to make that work in New Orleans was the way the offensive line was able to protect despite having to rely upon a silent snap.
Roethlisberger dropped back to pass 52 times and was sacked three times (he finished with 50 passing attempts and two runs).
“On one (sack) a guy was laying on the ground and grabbed my foot and I lost my balance, never should have taken me down,” he said.
The Saints came in with 45 sacks, one fewer than the Steelers, and the crowd noise in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome was deafening throughout when the Steelers had the ball.
Roethlisberger included the tight ends and the running backs when praising his protection amid such circumstances.
“For that noise, that pass rush, that defense, that was awesome,” he said. “They played as well as you could ask anybody to play.”
The Steelers would qualify for the playoffs as the AFC North Division champions if they beat the Bengals and the Ravens lose to or tie the Browns, or if the Steelers and Bengals tie and the Ravens lose.
The Steelers can earn a wild card invitation to the playoffs if they beat the Bengals and the Colts and Titans tie on Sunday night in Nashville.
Roethlisberger won’t be seeking continual updates from Baltimore.
“I assume it’ll be on the scoreboard, unless Mr. Rooney (Steelers president Art II) doesn’t want it up there,” Roethlisberger said. “I don’t really care what’s going on outside of Heinz Field.
“That’s all I can control so that’s all that matters to me.”