Ben being Ben:* *Ben Roethlisberger has been a key to the Steelers success and getting them into the playoffs, and much of that is, 'Ben being Ben.'
A few teammates who see firsthand what Roethlisberger does weighed in on what makes Ben, Ben, and why he is so special.
"Ben is a Hall of Famer. That is what makes Ben, Ben. He is a great player. He knows every situation. He is a great football player and a great leader."
"You just have to turn on the tape. People fear No. 7. I just sit back and watch. Like he said earlier this season, just follow him. He is a great leader, a great player, and a winner. His attitude. He wants to win and he is going to do that. You follow behind that. He is the captain, the quarterback. That is a great thing to have."
"He rises in big time moments. When we need him the most, we can count on him. That is what makes him a special player."
"His leadership. His ability to always stay focused and keep things balanced within the offense. His pocket presence, being able to move around and extend plays. And his arm. I mean there are all type of qualities that make Ben great. He is a Hall of Fame quarterback. I am just humbled to be playing with him. It still feels like a dream. He is the best."
"You can't sum him up in one word or sentence. It's those intangibles. He is the ultimate competitor. He wants to win, needs to win, and he proves it."
Stepping up: The last time the Steelers and Dolphins met, the defense gave up 204 yards rushing to Jay Ajayi.
"You have a bad taste in your mouth because they ran for 200 yards," said Vince Williams. "That is not a good thing at all. We have to get ready to stop the run. That is going to be the main objective, stop the run."
It's a different defense, though, facing the Dolphins this time, a defense that continues to improve and is playing with a lot of intensity.
"Every guy is stepping up and playing big each and every week," said McCullers. "Guys know the opponents well, we have a good game plan each week, and Coach (Mike) Tomlin puts us in position to make plays. All the guys are just stepping up big time."
They Said It:
Sammie Coates on a key for the offense this week: "We have to be able to execute chunk plays. It doesn't matter what the situation in the game is, we have to make splash plays and it doesn't matter if it comes from the run or the pass."
Alejandro Villanueva on the team's play over the last few months:
"This is just my personal theory, just from watching a lot of football and from, literally, just trying to be a student of the game. Every single time you start a new season, you have 16 weeks' worth of tape that the opponents are going to be watching. Your tendencies are going to be very clear for everybody. So in a lot of cases, you have to come up with a new offense. You have to dress your offense, you have to start running plays out of different formations, you have to change your routes, and you have to be a different type of offense going into a new season. Otherwise, people are going to have too much tape on you.
"For us, that was the case. We had to come up with different plays. We had to see who we had on our roster and come up with different plays, accommodating to different runners and different receivers. And that takes time. Fortunately, you can practice as much as you want here, but it's on Sundays where you can really get better. And I think for myself, especially, some of the protections that I struggle with we just stayed away from and we got better as an offense. We were able to see the abilities and what everybody can do. And now as we get to the end of the road, we're assuming we're as good as we can be. We've improved. And like I said earlier, Coach Tomlin always takes a lot of pride in getting better as the season goes on. I think he bases most of his coaching, and that's his coaching philosophy, to continue to get better throughout the season and be a better team in December than you are in September. And so, hopefully we can continue to improve and make those corrections as we get into the playoff because every single game is going to be very challenging, starting here with Miami."