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'We just need to be better'

The first pass thrown by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger against Baltimore was launched deep down the right sideline and made it into wide receiver Chase Claypool's hands momentarily before being knocked from Claypool's grasp by cornerback Marcus Peters.

The second-to-last pass Roethlisberger threw was a lob to wide receiver Diontae Johnson, who was alone at midfield but couldn't haul in a ball that dropped over his right shoulder and into his hands.

Too much of what happened in between on Wednesday afternoon against the Ravens was a recurring theme.

Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster speculated the Steelers dropped six or eight passes in their 19-14 victory.

By any estimate, they dropped too many.  

"We take catching the ball serious," offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner emphasized today. "You get a chance to touch it, it should be a catch."

That includes opportunities when a wide receiver is wide open and those that occur when cornerbacks or safeties are breathing down a wide receiver's neck and hammering away at the ball in his hands.

Head coach Mike Tomlin doesn't differentiate between such situations.

"I don't," Tomlin confirmed.

Fichtner doesn't, either.

"I can remember Hines Ward years ago, he had a ball hit him in the foot," Fichtner recalled. "He walked by me, I said 'that's a drop.' And he said, 'Yes, it is. It hit me.'

"The expectation is we'll catch every football. I know that's sometimes hard to do. I know defenders do make plays, but we can be a little stronger at the catch point and be a little more determined."

Had the pass-catchers been more of both against Baltimore, Fichtner suspects the Steelers would have done better than 1-for-4 in the red zone against the Ravens, better than 13 offensive points to show for 33:39 of possession time.

"If we don't have some of those drops we would have had a lot more downs because so many of them came on possession downs, third downs," Fichtner said. "You would have had more opportunities not only to throw the ball, score the ball or run the ball.

"One of the things we've been able to do is find ways to get solid players who can catch short and run long opportunities to get the ball. The balls don't stay in Ben's hand as long. I believe we're going on four games now without a sack. That's part of the things that we have to be able to do."

So is catching the ball more consistently than the Steelers did against Baltimore.

In response, Roethlisberger isn't dealing with his pass-catchers in preparation for Monday's game against Washington any differently than he always has.

"Nothing different needs to happen," he said. "We'll still communicate, still talk. We'll still throw guys the ball. There's no reason for us or me in particular to feel any kind of way abut that.

"I'm gonna throw guys the ball that are open, the way the reads dictate. It's just one of those games, I need to be more accurate, all around we just need to be better."

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